12.06.2013 2

Alternative education shows progress

School_ChoiceBy Tom Toth

Schools exist to educate students and therefore open avenues for achievement not otherwise available.

The educational experience is a cornerstone of early personal development and can be the difference between a student in class and a child in daycare. For millions of American children, especially those born into poverty, a quality education may be the only means by which he or she can escape a poor quality of life and give back to the community.

United States public policy has, for generations, reflected the value of national education accessibility by providing school funds for every child, regardless of economic condition. However, public education has, on a remarkable scale, failed to achieve even the basic requirements of the goal to educate every student.

All too many public school districts, specifically in the inner-cities, are drop-out factories that often achieve nothing more than lining the pockets of school administration officials unwilling to change how the school conducts its business for the sake of students crippled by ineffectual education. Alternative education options, like magnet and charter schools, repurpose the same public resources to provide better results–often far better.

Charter schools and voucher programs across the nation have simply worked. In Washington D.C., over 1,600 low-income children participate in the district’s voucher program at a 91 percent graduation rate, which is a stark contrast when compared to the 41 percent rate of those not participating in the program. Similarly, Hartford, Connecticut has opened the door for school choice and seen impressive results. Students at Capital Prep Magnet School score significantly higher on competency test scores than the nearby public school. Regardless of this success, these programs face an unremitting assault from political and special interests.

President Obama, a self-described “big proponent of charter schools,” proposed to eradicate D.C.’s thriving voucher program in his current budget proposal. Similarly, there are interests across the country relentlessly seeking to close the doors of institutions like Hartford’s Capital Prep.

Quality education offers hope for personal achievement where there would been none. A student’s net family income and zip code have zero bearing over his or her ability to learn and achieve a greater quality of life. Schools exist, not to fund special interests or employ teachers, but to educate students. There is only one chance to educate a child; a single lost semester in a poor classroom is simply unacceptable. Alternative education exists because too many traditional public schools fail families. Families demand access to universal quality education, and the special interests deserve to be exposed for standing in the way of progress.

Tom Toth is the Social Media Director for Americans for Limited Government.

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