January 25th, 2012
07:45 AM ET

My View: Education reform based on school choice

Andrew Campanella By Andrew Campanella, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Andrew Campanella is the vice president of public affairs for National School Choice Week. He is the former national director of communications at the American Federation for Children, the school choice movement’s largest lobbying and political organization, and was also a senior adviser for the federation’s nonprofit affiliate, the Alliance for School Choice.

For a moment, try to envision an America where, regardless of how much money you make or where you live, the government empowered you - even encouraged you - to send your children to better schools.

I’m talking about schools that inspire your children, challenge them to excel, and encourage them to dream big and plan for their futures, all while teaching them to love learning.

Sounds impossible. Sounds impractical. Sounds expensive.

But it isn’t.

It’s called school choice, and it’s the notion that across the country, families should be empowered to choose the best educational environments for their children - public schools, public charter schools, private schools, virtual schools and even home schooling.

Millions of Americans now agree that we must abandon archaic central planning that told us that if you live in one ZIP code, you can choose only one public school. Choice has become a centerpiece of American life, so why shouldn’t it extend to education?

States across the country are experimenting with the philosophy of open access for parents and kids to different educational environments, and the successes are stunning. In Washington, D.C., students participating in a private scholarship program are graduating at a rate that is at least 20 points higher than their public school peers. In Milwaukee, students participating in the nation’s longest-running voucher program are graduating at a rate that is 18% higher than children in traditional public schools. And in New Orleans, parental satisfaction with a new school choice program is over 90%.

People love school choice - and children benefit from it - because it brings together parents, students, community leaders and teachers in a common purpose. Teachers, especially, are the unsung heroes of the school choice movement. Without tens of thousands of teachers creating public charter schools, opening new private schools, promoting the benefits of virtual schooling and blended learning, and demanding reforms to traditional public schools, school choice wouldn’t exist.

In short: School choice, in all of its many forms, works. And during National School Choice Week (January 22-28, 2012), tens of thousands of citizens from across the country will celebrate these successes. Hundreds of events, planned by hundreds of different organizations, will kick off, collectively forming the largest celebration of education reform in American history.

It’s something you owe to yourself, your kids and your community to check out.

Why? Because in addition to the celebration, citizens from across political and ideological spectrums will also demand access to better educational options for their families. That’s the point of National School Choice Week: to celebrate the success of the roughly 4 million children who benefit from different forms of school choice while acknowledging that 4 million children is just a small fraction of school-aged kids in our nation who need better options, right now.

Why? Because an American child drops out of school every 26 seconds. That’s 1.2 million dropouts every year. When it comes to comparing the performance of American children with their peers in other countries, American students are outpaced by kids in 24 countries in math and are ranked 14th in reading.

School choice isn’t just an ideal. It’s essential to the future of American competitiveness. It’s key to the growth and redevelopment of underserved communities. And it’s the path to long-term economic growth and job creation.

Everyone who participates in National School Choice Week understands this and knows that the stakes are high. School choice offers a bright, inspirational ray of hope, one that America cannot pass up at this pivotal point in our history.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Andrew Campanella.

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Filed under: At Home • Charter schools • Issues • Policy • School choice • Voices
soundoff (134 Responses)
  1. Ted Ward

    We need "school choice" because the so called "teachers unions" have given us no other choice since they have effectively seized control of our entire public school system and wrecked and hamstrung it with power-mad work rules that have ruined the teaching profession and destroyed this nation's huge investment in local public schools. Basically, the whole expensive public school infrastructure has become a big waste of the taxpayer's money and a huge case of mass child abuse since the school systems serve only the union's purposes and not those of hardworking americans. Think of it, all those hardworking americans paying all those huge property and payroll taxes for schools that don't even care if the kids get an education, but only if teachers and janitors get great benefits and never get fired. Schools should not be job mills for anyone or a gravy train for unions and bureaucrats, but only a place for a great education for the kids.

    January 29, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  2. A Reasoner

    Reforming? Re-funneling might be a better choice. Using taxpayer dollars to fund private schools that can skirt public standards is like applying leeches to a patient bleeding to death. Great way for the religious right to siphon public money to privatize schools, eliminate any serious opportunity for an informed electorate and swap out the bible for science. With about 80% of the private schools being religious it is not an unrealistic expectation. Aren't the churches many shameless tax exemptions enough?

    January 28, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
    • Barning Kolling

      I imagine these schools would need to adhere to certain externally imposed guidelines to qualify for govt funds, including, one would presume, the teaching of evolution. I don't know about the US, but in Aust, private schools produce better results while using up less government money per capita (contrary to public belief), in support of an education system that would otherwise have to increase funding (leading to cuts elsewhere or tax increases). The funding mechanism would seem based on the notion that people will send people their children to a school based on their ability to pay fees (schools recieve less for wealthier children based on suburb). For us at least, private schooling can be argued to benefit public schooling (at the very least, it's a backdoor mechanism to tax the rich, effectively).

      January 28, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Calin

      There is nothing bad about religion. Public schools used to read the Bible.
      MA, General Laws, Chapter 71, Section 31 "A portion of the Bible shall be read daily in the public schools, without written note or oral comment;"

      January 29, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
  3. Elisa


    "Here in America," Sahlberg said at the Teachers College, "parents can choose to take their kids to private schools. It's the same idea of a marketplace that applies to, say, shops. Schools are a shop and parents can buy what ever they want. In Finland parents can also choose. But the options are all the same.

    January 28, 2012 at 8:41 am |
  4. Andrea

    I do not believe that School Choice is a long term fix for our education problem. If anything I feel that it further erodes our public schools and delays solving our problem. Theoretically, it sounds wonderful. Send your child to the best school and he/she will succeed. Having taught in a high performing school for twenty-two years,the school does not make the child a learner. Yes, high performing schools probably have a better chance of succeeding because most of their students value education which is essential for learning. I believe that successful students come from families that value education. That is one reason school choice works. Parents who value education seek high performing schools and have high expectations for their children.How do we educate the children whose parents don't value education?? All schools have these children. High performing schools have a better success rate with them because their schools have lots of positive role models and teachers have more time to devote to the students who need more TLC because it is not every student. I believe early intervention programs are critical. If only, parents were trained to do the most important job of their lives, raise their children. Educated parents read books, take classes, attend workshops, etc. They seek to learn how to raise their children. All parents need to learn to be a parent. Besides educating our parents, I believe we need common core curriculum in our mobile country and we need to look at teacher training and in-service. Countries like Singapore that out do us in math have spent years on developing their math curriculum and spend an equal amount of time training their teachers. Teachers teach half of the day and evaluate, plan, and prepare the other half of the day. If you are making a presentation for a business meeting, you plan and prepare. Teachers are presenting every da all day; they need time to prepare and to collaborate with other teachers. When teachers work with other teachers to plan lessons and develop strategies for student achievement, good teaching and student learning happen. This is what is happening in the countries that outshine us educationally. Education is valued, supported, and teachers are well prepared.

    January 27, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  5. jayde

    When people actually step foot into a public school setting and see the deterioration that Nickleby did to some of the schools than you can make a true judgement of public education. Nickleby says that schools that are not performing to standards would receive support and funding and for a short time this did happen, but as the years progressed they did not fund this program and with the outrageous moving target it was almost impossible to meet. Teachers are told by research as they are trained that not all students learn the same way and at the same pace, and that there are a group of students that do not do well on standardized tests (though they know the material), but Nickleby has no other measurement, but a multiple choice test, so if a who has trouble on standardized test does poorly there are no other indicates that are being used to make sure that the students does understand the taught material.

    Also, teachers are expected to control classes that are anywhere from 35-45(50) students, with no aid or support. I have a friend who has taught 9yrs and has 40+ students currently. Out of those students she has 5 special ed children ( 1 with aspergers, another has turrets, a few have adhd) she is not a special ed teacher, she is a general ed teacher. And with the number of students with learning problems and her actual # of students in class she has no aid or support. Another one of my friends 1/2 of her class is special ed and she has over 25 students and the kids that she has that are special ed are behavior problems.

    Parents send their children to learn, but if I call the home for support because a child is not doing homework or are misbehaving in class, and the parent is not doing anything at home how are you going to blame the teacher. You need to think about it. This is not an teacher problem or a school problem, this is a social problem. This generation of students is called the "Me" generation because of there lack of respect and courtesy. And the fact that parents condone and coddle this behavior with comments like "it's not my child", "your being a racist", "my child has home issues", ect is a cop-out. Children need discipline at home and that is were it starts. If they are not being taught about respect or courtesy in their home they are going to act out in society. And teachers will not be able to teach. Most of the children that come to my school are taking care of themselves. Their parents are always at work and they might see them a few times a week. Children are not developmentally ready to make certain decisions on their own they don't have the experience or knowledge yet.

    just some food for thought. A student of mine told me one that the reason they act up in class is because the believe that they don't know the teacher and that the teacher needs to respect them first, and earn their respect before they will give it. I told him, but isn't that a problem if teachers expect you to be respectful so that all people can learn? And he thought about it and said yes it is. Lastly, the way schools are being run are the teacher use classroom management and if they have run out of options (gave detention, taken classroom privileges, called parents) and nothing is working then the admin will get involved. And depending on your admin the might get consequences that fits what they did or a slap on the hand, or you have that student or students in the class most of the year or the whole year until anything is done and by then it is too late.

    January 27, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  6. layne a

    The article states that these schools are a success, but doesn't really engage with the concept enough for it to be highly meaningful. While no one is going to badmouth 'choice' as a concept, it doesn't really open the lid on what is realistically a more complex proposition. Are there limitations, mitigating factors, essential inequalities? Choice in and of itself is not a complete solution to the education problem. The options available still have to be effective.

    January 27, 2012 at 2:00 am |
  7. Steven

    IIn NYC, there are very few "zoned" high schools. None in Manhattan. It was a grueling process, but I appreciate getting to help my son "apply" for high school. Of course, he was guaranteed a school, just not necessarily his first choice. We visited 15 schools, before we filled out his application, and he got his first choice. The fact that it happened to be across the street was just a bonus. We visited schools all over the city, many of which are specialized, so we were able to focus on schools with interests that he shares.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
  8. Dysfunctional Approach

    Better neighborhoods produce better schools. School choice is misdirection. It's a dysfunctional model that ignores what the student and parent bring to the educational "success" of students. When you send dysfunctional students from dysfunctional families to any school, there will be a negative impact on the school's efficacy.
    What the advocates of choice are really asking for is an end to public education for those students who do not excel, for those families who don't value education, for those neighborhoods contaminated by economic decay. Don't redouble efforts to educate every child, abandon those who statistically aren't likely to succeed anyway.

    January 26, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  9. alan

    Ridiculous..another clueless idiot spouting about issues he has no business discussing. Study after study clearly shows that charter schools fail students...on any measure, they perform no better than public schools. In fact, when looked at closely, charter schools should perform better because they pick and choose their students; no SPED, no behavior problems, no ESL kids,.....despite the fact public schools take all students, they still perform at or above charter schools. School choice is farce, a fuzzy name for a system that takes money from schools and hurts kids in the long run.

    January 26, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • merridee

      Exactly – it's a rip off and diverts necessary, taxpayer funded money into the pockets of evangelistic ideologues in the bargain..

      January 28, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  10. Tiffany

    Sounds nice, but "school choice" is a logistical nightmare and impossibility. All kids want to go to the best school. However, there is only room for approximately 2000 kids in an average high school. So, do we just build one enormous football stadium sized school? As soon as the low achieving students attend the "best" school, its scores go down. The best school is typically the school where the kids come from the highest socio-economic background, not any inherent superiority of teachers or curriculum. It makes no economic, environmental nor common sense to drive a kid to a school that is an hour away when there is a neighborhood school a minute away. If a student works hard enough, they can succeed at any school. Unfortunately, many can and do choose to skip class and do drugs instead.

    January 26, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • A Teachers Son

      A student in a school where one teacher has to manage 15 to 20 kids without any discipline support from the principal or parents has no opportunity to learn. At least not at school. Students in these schools can only succeed by enduring a school day of standardized testing, random programs pushed by the administrators buddy network, students attacking the teachers, fellow classmates, and destroying school property (during class no less).
      School attendance is a means to secure federal funding. The Atlanta debacle is a good example.
      Students who want to learn have to do so IN SPITE OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS not with the aid of public schools.
      Good teachers push the limits on teaching as best they can but the bureaucracy of administrators and the swarms of auditors are always just down the hall munching on a donut looking for a chance to "change the teaching method" to justify their useless overhead expense.
      And Atlanta is a perfect example of how useless the administration and auditors are. Because 1) they failed to stop testing fraud which is the auditors primary job, or 2) they new about the fraud,initimidated to teachers to commit fraud,took credit for high test scores and then acted "shocked and appalled" when the fraud was uncovered.

      January 26, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  11. Debbie

    I'm sure my city isn't alone in offering school choices. If the parents are able and willing to transport their kids to far away neighborhoods to attend another public school, they can ask for transfers. The problem with the "choice" is that there isn't much common ground in neighborhoods. Parents spend their time driving their kids miles and miles to visit with their classmates, etc.
    Plus, choice isn't totally the answer. Parents that value education, and actually expect their kids to go to school and complete their studies are the bigger force in determining academic success.

    January 26, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Steven

      True in most of the country, but not everywhere. In NYC, we have an excellent public transportation system, so when they are old enough, our kids can get anywhere they need to without having to drive.

      January 26, 2012 at 3:20 pm |


    January 26, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  13. academics

    school choice by the stdents alone or even with parents' support will not help students and parents at the end. parents will find difficulty in maintaing steady jobs and children will integrety and stability due to developing steadfastness, neighborhood, family life and play mates, which will cause hardship for the students to learn their subject matter at the end and both parents and the local school board will incur more financial loss and cause more school dropouts and crime rates. on a temporary basis some students make good grades and at the end this is likely to reverse and majority students will be affected by it.

    January 26, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
  14. Julia

    Destroying communities, shutting down neighborhood public schools and forcing children to travel long distances to "choice" schools, then kicking out kids who have behavior problems or lower the school's API. School choice is one of the worst ideas to hit education reform, and there are a lot of bad ideas in education reform.

    Current "education reform" is code word for privatization of what should be a public service. Privatization that benefits the wealthy, white likes of Andrew Campanella, while destroying poor communities and families.

    January 26, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
    • jkrizan

      "School Choice" is also a code phrase for those who want to use government funds for church operated schools. That is a blatant violation of the seperation of church and state. Also, schools are not little private enterprises and shouldn't be operated as such. Lets get over our tax-itis, pony up the bucks, and get our public schools back up to the world leading standard they used to hold.

      January 26, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
      • merridee

        You have that exactly right. It's a monumental rip off of tax payer money!

        January 28, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • A Teachers Son

      The federal government requires school choice when a school fails to meet standardized testing levels and in some areas the federal government requires school choice based on racial make-up.
      The federal government determined that there were "too many black teachers in a primarily black school" and recommended "hiring auditors" to get non-black teachers into the school to meet the racial quota.
      That is an insult to the teachers in that school and to the administration that hired them. And go ahead and make the wrong assumption about the make-up of the school board that hired the existing teachers.

      January 26, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
      • Bob2

        I agree, let the teachers teach, but it will never happen. That is the only variable that administrators can manipulate. Either through coercion or bullying. Too many good teachers can't do their job because one or two bad teachers screw it up so that everyone has to do the same thing.

        January 26, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  15. hypatia

    BS from a flaming idiot! The schools are awful so let's let parents choose the good ones and leave the bad ones to get worse. Yeah. That's a solution. NOT!

    January 26, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • Steven

      Close the bad ones and start over.

      January 26, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  16. woodrow

    Here is what is really being said here. Poor areas with poor children have really bad schools because the children are disenfranchised from the system. These poor students pull the whole school down into the gutter. But I propose, that rather than run away from the problem, get some intelligent and creative people to fix the schools rather than just write off the students who can't afford to go somewhere else.

    January 26, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  17. Bob

    I like the idea of school choice, however, this editorial has several factual errors. One of which is the number of students who drop out each year. The article states that 1.3 million students drop out each year, but there are only 16 million students enrolled in high school (where you can actually drop out. That would mean that 1 in 17 students drops out of high school. The figure is not even close to accurate.
    Also, as far as how the US ranks in relation to other industrialized nations academically, one must remember that the US reports the NAEP scores of all students, where many countries only report their students enrolled in the "college track," and not students enrolled in vocational tracks or below.

    January 26, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  18. Darwin was right

    School "choice" is a code word for CATHOLIC and other religious schools who want your taxpayers $$$ so they can teach your children to be bigots and to believe that everybody but them is going straight to HELL. Furthermore, more choice means more schools WILL CHEAT ON TEST SCORES in order to prove that "they are better".

    January 26, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • If Darwin was right, why are there stil monkeys?

      The only bigot here is you.
      Based on your premise my choice to send my student to any private school should relieve my of paying taxes so you can aquiesce to letting yours go to a failing public school.

      January 26, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
      • jkrizan

        No, your school choice simply means that if you choose a religious school, or even a semi-religious school, you must do so without the expectation of government financial support. I helped put my 3 kids through church school without any government money on roughly $7.00/hr. I'm sure that you can tough it out as well!

        January 26, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  19. Mike

    School choice sounds nice, and some of the statistics in here sound good, but the reality is that charter schools and voucher programs have created failing schools AT A GREATER RATE than newly created public schools. Yes, plenty of charter schools succeed, but a greater number fail to show long-term improvement (anyone familiar with the Hawthorne effect knows that any change will produce a short-term improvement).

    And for the schools that do succeed, well, you're getting a group of students whose parents are heavily involved in caring about their education. Of course, if public schools had 100% of students with parents heavily involved in their child's education, how good would those public schools be?

    Change NEEDS to happen with our public school system. Giving kids 12 weeks off every summer, allowing social promotion at young grades, and teachers and schools being satisfied with eroding expectations are a major problem. There are countless other ways that change NEEDS to happen. Our public school systems are doing an inadequate job in many ways.

    But all school vouchers and choice does makes the situation better a few, and hurts the majority. And long-term, when those majority are receiving a worse education, are underemployed and unemployed, and our economy is failing far worse, those who have had successful educations still won't be in good shape with their lives because of the state of the rest of the country.

    Change is good. But it needs to be a change that will have an impact for all, and not an impact for some.

    January 26, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
  20. Barry G.

    It will be difficult, if not impossible, to solve the current crisis in the American education system, for a number of reasons:

    1. The only thing the two dominant parties (Dems and Repubs) can agree upon is taking money from lobbyists, fund raising, and using their offices to become extremely wealthy (far beyond their $175,000 annual salaries).

    2. Then there’s the chronic and epidemic problem of teen pregnancy in the U.S., which rivals teen pregnancy rates in developing countries. The teen pregnancy epidemic is proliferating massive numbers of children, who present serious behavior and developmental problems, which make educating them exceedingly difficult, if not impossible.

    3. Then there is the issue of the powerful teacher unions, which often protect unfit teachers. These unions often resist any efforts to present reasonable standards for teachers. (Consider the article in the DE News Journal, regarding the large number of prospective teachers in a VA county, who were unable to pass a basic high school proficiency exam; and, consider the difficulty some schools have disciplining teachers, who have committed serious unethical acts and even criminal offenses); etc..

    4. Then there is the problem of the deteriorating homes in the U.S., which has a profound bearing upon whether youth are educable.

    5. Then there is the sensitive issue of race, which would prevent any sensible politician or leader from taking any serious and drastic measures to address problems in the school, community and home.

    5. Then there’s the….

    Well, you get my point, I trust.

    January 26, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • Steven

      All valid points, but you seem to be suggesting we just give up and I respectfully disagree.

      January 26, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  21. Holly Peterson

    And I agree with MR. Bill- as long as parents do their own thing and let public school and friend raise their children for them, maybe doing a "family night" which is really nothing more than "movie night" with little interactions bseide "pass the popcorn"- results are going to be poor. Not all kids can go to a small private school like my husband did for two years (it's the only place he succeded and liked school), or do lessons and adventures at home like our kids or so many of our friends (yes, there are plenty of cool, well dressed home schoolers, even secular ones, though we are christians), so I think the "flipped" school idea for public schools is a gem, a real gem! Look it up if you haven't read it yet- it's here on CNN somewhere.

    January 26, 2012 at 11:41 am |
  22. AJ

    And when kids who can get into charter schools move there, states are moving funding with them. So then the struggling public schools, where many unaccepted charter applicants have to remain, and are already underfunded, get even less funding, and spiral downward.

    Not saying I'm against choice of schools, but pretending it is all positive, while omitting the funding issue faced by schools who lose money to charter additions cannot be glazed over. Some receive higher levels of educations, but those who can't get into the charter then are left with an even more poorly funded school.

    January 26, 2012 at 11:38 am |
  23. Holly Peterson

    Educational choice is vital- charter schools, vouchers for small private schools, "flipped" public schools, and the joys and adventures of home education are all vitally important choices to be available if we want well rounded, socially healthy, intelligent, emotionally stable, and wise children. Which we all do!!!!! I'm so glad CNN is covering innovations in education that are actually WORKING.

    January 26, 2012 at 11:36 am |
  24. Corey

    I know this would result in the closing of schools and thousands of teachers losing their job. That's fine by me. In the real world, if your company is outdated, sells inferior products, and is otherwise a failure, you shut down, and everyone involved has to find a new gig. It should be no different with schools. The US pours more money into education than any other and it's only proven that money can't fix a broken system. Let's start taking education seriously in this country and stop catering to the unions.

    January 26, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Jeremy

      I could not agree more. I respect what professional student says, these kids CAN be educated. It takes dedication and effort. Good teachers can do it. Bad teachers won't and they can not be removed because of the union.

      January 26, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • Matt

      That's what happened in the city north of here. Now they don't have any schools at all. They all shut down and kids have to go to the private charter schools in the next town over if they want education.

      January 26, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • LadyVa

      As normal, it must be the teachers unions causing the big mess. I wish half the people actually had some knowledge instead repeating your elected officials ideas. Always a comfort TP hear the same old rhetoric.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
  25. Pete

    School choice leads to the schools choosing, and schools with more problems having even more problems with becoming dumping grounds for behavior problems, special needs, adn those who are struggling. At some point in their life these kids will face the spectre of try harder or you'll get left behind – I'm not sure the 2nd grade is where we want to start that up. We need to mandate fairer districting economically and while we can give tax breaks for families with school age children in private school, we can't let them just skate away from supporting public schools entirely. Certainly no school receiving public money should be able to push students away because they have some issues behaviorally or academically, but we see it all the time, especially with No Child Left Behind – they forgot the "except the ones who step out of line once or who score low on tests" part, those kids are getting left behind in droves.

    January 26, 2012 at 8:55 am |
    • Sean

      The problem you end up with is everyone in the local area wants to send their kids to the best school. That school can only accept so many students so you get overcrowding and from the projects going to the nice school the suburban parents pay for, suburban kids going to a school in the projects because there wasn’t enough room at the ‘good’ school. How is THAT fair?

      Why should parents of kids going to a private school have to pay for private and public school? Better yet why should people without school age children have to pay for your kid’s education? If you want fair.. fair should be across the board not only for the ghetto.

      January 26, 2012 at 11:09 am |
      • C. Smith

        This whole problem could be fixed more easily by ENDING THE SCHOOL UNIONS! When teachers can basically sit back and read a book for the whole year, without really teaching anything other than laziness, and not even get a pay cut, much less fired, you can expect our schools to be a failure.

        Firing a bad union teacher takes MORE than an act of Congress! It should take no more than a pink slip.

        January 26, 2012 at 11:23 am |
      • Sean

        @C. Smith
        sigh… another product of a poor education. I agree school unions and unions in general need a reality check. However you are using them as a scapegoat. If it were not for unions you wouldn’t have your eight hour work day, minimum wage, lunch break and fifteen minute breaks. I agree however that the schools are just as responsible as the parents. As you may note from my other posts.

        January 26, 2012 at 11:35 am |
      • Robert

        School choice only helps those who need it the least: kids who's parents care enough to pay attention to what goes on in their kids' schools and who make their education a priority. The "bad" schools are bad because too many kids have parents who just don't care or have too many problems themselves to help their kids be successful.
        People without kids benefit from a good public school system because those kids grow up to be their doctors, policemen, airplane-maintenance technicians, etc. Our society benefits from having education available to every child, not just those who can afford it. That's why we should all help pay for it.

        January 26, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • Rick

      Couldn't agree with you more Pete...In my hometown, there are 13 elementary schools. Having been exposed to many of them, each of them have strong teachers, with the exception of a small handful that seem to be evenly distributed throughout the district. However, there seems to be only a couple of the schools who perform well on a regular basis. These schools, however, are in the farther reaching suburbs of the town where the more affluent homes are located. Until this town considers redistricting these schools, there will always be an inequity of performance as measured by state testing. The students that are from the suburbs have easier access to materials paid for by the parents, the ability to pay tutors, the ability to reach the public library by car, etc...the playing field needs to be leveled...

      January 26, 2012 at 11:38 am |
  26. Kevin

    *laughing*....I meant to spell "quack*

    January 26, 2012 at 8:12 am |
  27. Kevin

    What a scam...I am in charge of operations at an inner city school w/in LAUSD and I'll tell you, this article is incredibly misleading. What he fails to mention is that Charter schools continuously kick out children that exhibit the least bit of disciplinary problems, do not enroll kids with special needs or language difficulties and have been continuously caught recently cheating on state exams. Is this the type of America this quake envisions. Give me a break and tell it like it is without the bias crud.

    January 26, 2012 at 8:11 am |
    • Sean

      @ Kevin
      It wasn’t just the charter schools getting in trouble for cheating. You should also be unbiased.

      January 26, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • Godstar

      Exactly, the guys a lobbyist, therefore he has his own agenda to sell here. He's leaving out many pertinent details.

      January 26, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • C. Smith

      Kevin, actually, many charter schools DON'T kick kids out for bad behavior, or for anything else. There are plenty of them that promise to take in ANY child, with ANY problems, and ANY background, and live up to that promise.

      January 26, 2012 at 11:25 am |
      • LadyVa

        I really doubt your statement especially if the school gets many applicants and has to have a lottery system. Many have reported that sped kids and discipline problems are not chosen....sounds more like cherry picking!

        January 26, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
  28. Mr. Bill

    Where does the money to educate the children who change schools/districts come from? Does this mean that if a child moves from another district/school into the same school as my children that the money per child drops in my child's school because the new students parents tax dollars are going to their original school? Sorry, but 95% of the problem with failing schools is not in the school – it's in the home. If mom and dad do not reinforce the love of learning shown by the teachers, the children will rarely find that love of learning.

    January 26, 2012 at 7:03 am |
    • Curt

      Amen, I was thinking the same thing.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • Suzie

      I agree 100%. I work for a small, rural school and I believe it's the parent's fault. The parents want the schools to raise their children. These parents are willing to sit in a bar but not take care of their children. But if something happens at the school, they are in the school ready to fight. They don't want to believe that their child would do anything wrong. I see it every day. Parents need to be parents and stop expecting the schools to raise their children. Once that happens, you would see a change in schools.

      January 26, 2012 at 8:32 am |
      • LadyVa

        I am in the same situation and deal with the same things. This mentality is everywhere.

        January 26, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
      • Kashi Bazemore Nelson

        The easy thing for us, as educators, to do is point fingers. Of course we all benefit when parents are supportive and involved in their children's education. However, what do we do when they are not? Do we give up on their children? Absolutely not. If we are concerned about the future of our nation, we have to do what we can to give their children the education and tools needed to make better choices in the future.

        January 28, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Sean

      @Mr. Bill
      I hear where you are coming from, but I can’t agree a 100%. My experience in our public education system was dismal. The teachers as a whole could have care less if we even showed up, let alone if we learned anything. With VERY few exceptions the schools are also an issue. Parents need to take reasonability but so do teachers. One side placing 100% on blame on the other side is almost always wrong. Admittedly it has been a few years since I attended school but I highly doubt its gotten better.

      On the subject of cost however I agree completely.

      January 26, 2012 at 11:19 am |
      • Steven

        II hear regularly from my high school age son's guidance counselor and several of his teachers. So my experience varies greatly from yours. Do you have kids in school now?

        January 26, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  29. Yepyep6598

    Im sorry everybody Jesus didnt promise Utopia on earth I here people talking about this kid and that kid and the parent does not have a good educational background, sorry, then that parent should strive to improve themselves educationally. In life there are going to be those who are fortunate and those unfortunate and that's biblical if it were not so, Jesus with a twinkling of an eye could make everybody equal in everything.

    January 26, 2012 at 12:43 am |
  30. Greg

    Come on, Andrew, admit it: It's about re-segregating the schools so your kids don't have to go to school with "them." Oh, and stealing money from the public school system.

    January 26, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • Suzie

      I agree!

      January 26, 2012 at 8:33 am |
  31. paul

    Wow. School Choice sounds great!

    Unless.....you are a poor minority student, or you can't read, or you have learning disabilities, or you have behavior problems or any other of a myriad of other unappealing traits to private, charter or religious schools who do not want to spend the money or effort to educate these children. They don't have to take these children, and they won't. School of choice is a smoke screen for parents who want the goverment to help fund their child's private education.

    January 25, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • adam

      Well with school choice the dollars $$$ would follow the child.. So if timmy with all those issues / disabilities wanted to go to a school then that school would be granted money to accommodate the child and provide the child with the resources they need... Currently though this is not the case except for extreme cases.

      School choice still doesn't solve the issue of parents not valuing education or taking an active role in their childs education.

      January 25, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • Steven

      Do you have school choice where you live? Because it does not sound to me like you do. My son has an IEP and got his first choice of a high school. In NYC, we have school choice for high school and almost no zoned schools. His teachers and school staff are in touch with me frequently, some weeks daily. So we have not experience your supposition. AND the majority of his school are minorities and probably live below the national income average.

      January 26, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  32. RUTH

    Then do not ask me for money to support these schools anymore,they even go to school online,why are we still building these multi million dollar schools for anyway?...you want different reform for education then the teachers should fund these schools,maybe if they paid for them kids would learn!

    January 25, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • Mr. Bill

      That's the dumbest thing I have ever heard! We, teachers, can only do so much. If mom and dad do not force their children to study or do their homework how is it the teachers fault the child is failing? Teachers have access to these students from around 180-300 hours A YEAR, parents have all the rest of the access time.

      January 26, 2012 at 7:07 am |
    • Sean

      @Mr. Bill
      You reveal your bias sir. Of course it’s not ‘YOUR” fault. It’s those nasty parents! (grab your pitch forks!) Do a bit of self education and you’ll see its just as much failed teachers as it is parents. I’m not sure what kind of teacher you are but I hope it’s not history or social sciences.

      P.S. If schools believe it is not their responsibility to raise children (and I agree) they should stay out of the children’s private lives. Stop stalking minors on Face Book and punishing them for activities not held on school grounds. The hypocrisy is palpable.

      January 26, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  33. Matt

    Just have your kid do something mischievous, like graffiti the bathroom, and make sure they get caught. Then they'll be kicked out of the crummy school in your Zip Code, and you can enroll them in 90210, this is the way public education works in the US.

    January 25, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
  34. Dontbefooled

    Its not just the schools that fail... its the students... moved all the unmotivated kids to another school and guess what... its fails just like the one they came from. School choice is segregation, just like the communities we live in. The better schools are in better neighborhoods, don't think for a minute your kid is going to move up the ladder. These "choice" pushers want more of your tax dollars for their private schools, but they don't want your kids to attend them.

    January 25, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • LadyVa

      Yes, they will lottery so many spots to low achievers but they have no intention of letting a whole bunch in!

      January 25, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
      • Curt

        I couldn't disagree more with your arguments. It is not about successful parents of successful students wanting more money to fund their private school. I found the best school district for my son and we moved there so he could attend. I don't want this school of choice garbage because then the bad kids would bring down our school. Just like others in this forum have said. It is the parents and students that make the schools good or bad, not the system or the teachers.

        January 26, 2012 at 8:36 am |
      • LadyVa

        Ummm...like I said...that is why it is a lottery....not sure why you disagree with me but ok.

        January 26, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
  35. kerberusII

    until the discussion rises above "good" and "bad" schools and addresses curriculum, the specific qualifications of the teachers of the curriculum and the specific qualifications of the evaluators of the teachers, the discussion is as useful as more sand in the desert.

    January 25, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • Joseph Sroka

      This particular article wasn't just shallow, it had no depth at all, no details on why school choice is really better. I was looking forward for some food for thought, but there was NO CONTENT in this article. It sounds more like it was written by some by some under-educated hack than a person whom you might expect to be knowledgeable about the education of our kids.

      January 25, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
  36. LadyVa

    As a teacher, I'm all about free choice. I'm all about free choice as long as its FAIR to all. The reality though is, it won't be. I always say, there will be a 'failing' school because someone has to teach the difficult ones, someone has to try to inspire the disenchanted learners and someone has to love the low achievers that will never be selected based on low test scores/ benchmark performances. Choice is great....until students become cookie cutter, as many want to accuse the public school of doing, and those SELECT schools only want certain kinds of students. This 'selecting' process happens in public schools that don't take fed money as it is...now apply it to every school! Imagine having a school full of students that are all alike because the 'high achievers' or 'richer' students get it all and those who are not, get what? A equal education? You think? Last time we had separate but equal, it disenfranchised. I don't believe in this movement. Sending our education into privatization and profit will only make it haves and have nots. We don't need anymore than what we got now. You want to fix something...start with our societies treatment of teachers...then our priorities with education, put your money where your mouth is and fix it! But don't divert funds, brand it with language like vouchers and choice, and then sell it to the highest bidder to privatize it...and call it EQUAL.

    January 25, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
  37. DaveinCincy

    If you make learning a prioritiy in your childs life....they will make it a priority. If you let them hang on the corner at 10 years old until midnight on a school night. They will fail!! Stop blaming the schools for your failures. Teachers can do a lot...but there job is to teach 30 kids...not babysit your kid. Man up America!! Teaching is a thankless, low paying job. My daughter wants to be a teacher. I told her the reality of being a teacher....I hope she listens!! Maybe I'll let her shadow a teacher in the public schools. That'll do it....

    January 25, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • LadyVa

      Exactly, society determines norms or values in general. Parents are fed that it's the teachers/ school fault when elected officials need an excuse. The responsibility of the family has been less and less, the further down the road we have wandered. If my kids succeed, I will always know it was my husband and I who made them go the distance...they go to a good school because of who we are and they meet expectations that we have set. I will never say it was luck, one good teacher etc...we molded that child and ultimately, we, the parents are solely responsible.

      January 25, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
      • Curt

        Now that, LadyVa, I agree with.

        January 26, 2012 at 8:42 am |
  38. ES

    School choice will never work logistically. But I support school vouchers idea. The problem with public schools is that there are too many kids there who don't want to leanr and disrupt the process. If people could take cvouchers there would be many more private schools and in private schools they don't need to put up with those who don't want to learn. At least, those who want to learn will have a chance.
    In addition, in public schools we need to recognize that one size doesn't fit all and there should be "gifted" classes starting from elementary school for those who want and able to advance faster. Resources should be concentrated on those who want and able to learn, this is where the biggest return is. Right now too much wasted on brining up the rear and not enough spent on students with potential. Other countries do exactly the opposite because it works.

    January 25, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  39. Christopher H Lee

    Let there be three schools – a great school, a fair school and a weak school, each capable of teaching 500 students. Let there be 1500 students who can each "choose" the school they wish to attend. Hmm. Seems they all chose the great school. Huh. So we close the other two as they have no students. Hmm. Wait a minute. Something's wrong. I can't quite put my finger on it...

    January 25, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • john

      I put my finger all in it ! IT racist and the poor and minorities will not be able to get to these great school.puts us back 30 years !BS .but of having a child on autism spectrum this works very them if states will get the asd poor kids to these schools taht have great asd programs!

      January 25, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  40. Cnrs

    I like the school of choice option. I wish there were vouchers for homeschooling. I took both of my kids out of public school due to the fact that my children were numbers. For example, I worked with each of my children on their homework nightly. A couple of months later I was informed that my son was failing and had not turned in all of his school work. I was highly upset that this problem was not brought to my attention earlier. I would have made sure that he was doing all of nightly work if I had been informed. The sad thing is that when I went to check out my son the teacher basically told me that homeschooling was the best option becuase the school could not meet his needs, and this was a school of choice in my area.

    Today's education system does not meet the needs of our children, and we as parents need more options. I personally homeschool and have seen a huge improvement in both of my children. Homeschooling has allowed us to study more subjects, such as introducing Spanish to my 3rd and 5th grader.

    It would be nice to be able to receive the money that the schools get for each student which roughly is 5-6k a year in the area where we live. Now with that amount of money there would be an enormous amount of education options available to parents. So I think it basically comes down to the all mighty dollar.

    January 25, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Bob

      One thing bothers me about your post. You state that you helped your son with his homework. I applaud your effort and wish more parents were like you in that respect. However, you didn't check on your student's progress or grade. I don't know if they have a system in your state that allows you to check grades online, but it is a parent's responsibility to check on their child's grade. I have to deal with 90 students a day, and there is no possible way to make contact with each of those parents. I make sure the child knows weekly what their grade is, but I also expect parents to keep track. Homeschool is always an option, but it shouldn't be paid for with public money. Schools exist to provide a free education. If you want another option, then it is up to you to foot the bill.

      January 25, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
      • Cnrs

        I have to disagree with you on my family footing the bill for our childrens education when we as tax payers pay for other children to go to school. So why shouldn't I be able to make the decision on where my tax money goes?

        I see your point on having 90 students to look after, but there is such a thing as email. I personally was in email contact with my sons teacher, and informed her if he was having problems to simply send me an update. Granted, it would be difficult to send 90 emails, but the students who are having problems would personally be my top priority when it came to communicating with parents. For example, you may only have 20 students that need extra help it is not terribly difficult to send a quick email. Another factor is that in my school district they have early days for teachers to take care of extra business.

        I tend to agree with other posters that there is a lack of communication between teachers and families. What happened to the motto of more interaction between educators and families? Sounds nice, but in reality its a bunch of fluff. Some parents don't choose to get involved, but for those of us who do care about our children and their education it doesn't seem to be working.

        Statistics are starting show that the US is falling behind other countries in our education. So if this is a problem measures need to be taken to ensure that our children can have every advantage to learn and be successful.

        January 25, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • aflarend

      In response to you early days for teachers: often those early days and in service days are not for the teacher to do their work of contacting parents, lesson planning, grading, mandated paperwork Usually the time is spent on other things as decided by the administration. Also, I want to echo the online gradebook that most schools have. With that technology, most schools will place the responsibility on the parent to check their child's grades. Finally, it may not be only 20 students in need of a parental contact or extra help or special accommodations. I know of teachers who have 60 of those students. Finally, as far as the 5-6k for funding. You did not pay all of that each year. Your neighbors contribute as does everyone in your district.

      January 25, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
  41. Pat Egan

    This artilcle is specious and pretentious with outlandish, hyperbole. Charter Schools want to feed off the public trough, but do not want to have any accountability. All Charter School students should be required to take the same state standard exams their counterparts in public schools take. Then, compare the results – but make sure that the demographic profiles are similar. Otherwise, Charter Schools may look superior, but that is only because they are cherry-picking the best students

    January 25, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • FatSean

      Exactly. The whole point of public education is to ensure the whole population has a decent basic education so that they can be informed participants in government. It is not to get you a job.

      All these plans would see the schools in the poorer areas lose funding to "charter schools" at the expense of the education of people who need it most.

      January 25, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  42. tsmith

    This is a ridiculous article. First of all, any time "choice" is involved everyone will want to go to the same "good" schools, and thus those schools develop admission standards and other barriers that let them pick the best kids. Second, geography is a HUGE problem since we all can't live near the school we would "choose." The real problem is that most "bad" schools are full of kids that come from families that don't care. If America wants good schools, then the general public needs to get off their butts and start taking an interest in their own children. If your kids can't read, YOU are to blame.

    As for those of you that want to criticize the teachers in "bad" schools, remember that good teachers find their way into the better schools. If you know you are a good teacher, where wouild YOU want to teach?

    The best solution is to make our schools like those in other developed countries. At around age 13 the academically strong students go on to high school, and the non-academic students go to vocational school. It sounds unfair, but it is realistic. That is why other nations have such better achievement scores and schools that work so much better. Only the good kids get to go.

    January 25, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
    • MitziW

      You said, "The best solution is to make our schools like those in other developed countries. At around age 13 the academically strong students go on to high school, and the non-academic students go to vocational school. It sounds unfair, but it is realistic. That is why other nations have such better achievement scores and schools that work so much better. Only the good kids get to go."
      You are absolutely right, but no American parent wants to hear, "Your child is not college material." In our democracy too many people confuse equal opportunity with equal access. To turn any child away from an academic high school would be "unfair"! It will never happen, even though many children would end up happier and more fulfilled.

      January 25, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
      • professionalstudent

        International test scores are incredibly misleading. The nations whose students perform highest on these tests are operating cram schools. Most of their days are occupied with the memorization and recitation of facts. They do not teach creative thinking or problem-solving, and they discourage ingenuity and innovation. In short, these nations are manufacturing worker drones in their schools. When these students are adults they'll be very skilled...at taking tests. There is a reason why the U.S. owns half the world's patents, and it isn't standardized testing.

        January 26, 2012 at 10:10 am |
      • LadyVa

        Pro-student- that is right! On top of that though, the family takes education seriously and those who are schooled are not just the general population!

        January 26, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • LadyVa

      There are good teachers in poor areas. The problem is, they are paid less, get more paperwork to do because of student achievement and burn out faster. It's hard to sty in a struggling school. I am a teacher in one and I don't do it for the money!

      January 25, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
      • LadyVa


        January 25, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
  43. Bob

    It is impossible to compare charter schools to public schools. Charter schools do not have to enroll every student that applies. They do not have to meet the same testing requirements or laws that are required of the public education system.They are not held to the same standard, but are continuously praised for their achievment. When charter schools are bound by the same rules as public schools, then I might have a different opinion.

    January 25, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • cmth

      In Minnesota, charter school have to take every child that applies (up to the enrollment limit) no matter what their achievement level happens to be. Charter school student also must take, and pass, the same standardized tests that are given to every public school student.

      January 25, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
      • professionalstudent

        I taught at a charter elementary school (public school now), that supposedly held an admissions lottery. I found it strange that no students with severe disabilities had their number come up. There were no students in wheelchairs, for instance, and maybe two or three (out of 450) students with autism. Students with learning- or physical disabilities are more expensive (I know of two students who cost our district nearly $200,000 per year) than other students. Small wonder then, that these students tend to lose the admissions "lottery".

        January 26, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  44. JOSE0311USMC


    January 25, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • ES

      I went to a public school in former USSR which had no running water and conviniences were outside. I turned out just fine. The issue is not the money but lack of desire to learn. My parents made sure I learned and signed up for very extra class available because it was the only way out of the misearble existence. It wasn'r a sure way, but it was a chance.
      But you can't teach someone who doesn't want to learn and parents don't care, which is typical in the US.

      January 25, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
      • Yepyep6598

        AMEN!!! We have poured Trillions of dollars in the education system here in the United States it hasnt made education any better when will we learn the word RESPONSIBILITY is up to the individual. If you want your child to llearn reinforce it at home. Money is not going to help the educational system here getting involved with your chid and interacting with them about the importance of an education.

        January 26, 2012 at 12:37 am |
      • professionalstudent

        YES we can teach students who don't want to learn – it's just a bit more difficult. We do it every day, all across this great country. We do it by making our classrooms into safe havens: a place where students want to be. We do it by building bonds of trust. We do it by encouraging students to believe in themselves and their own self-worth; by instilling and nurturing their own desire to succeed, and applauding those successes when they do. We teach students who don't want to learn by discovering their individual hopes, fears, needs, interests, beliefs, etc., and using those to make school and education relevant to them (We also do a lot of other things that won't fit into a book, let alone a paragraph). Sure, there are some of us (teachers) who have no business being in a classroom, and they are less likely to instill a belief in education in their students. They are, however, the minority. The rest of us know that many of our students don't want to learn when they first enter our classrooms, and we accept the challenge knowing that, odds are, we'll overcome it together. Believe, my Russian-American friend: this is the country for it.

        January 26, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  45. aflarend

    Anecdotal evidence can be problematic since there are often salient details that are either forgotten or misinterpreted. For example, if it "quickly" became clear, how long did you wait until you formed your opinion? Quickly implies 3 weeks, but that can't be enough time to make an informed opinion unless you were personally in the school for those weeks. How do you know that they did the exact same thing year after year? And why is that considered a sign of a bad teacher? I also would like to know about the circumstances surrounding that you "finally" got a teacher to talk to you...you had to wait 6 months before you got a return phone call or email?

    January 25, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  46. Yakobi

    I've got some bad news for you parents out there...
    Your kids are dumb and you're uninvolved.

    The truth hurts, but there it is. It's not the schools' fault your kids aren't learning, it's YOURS. A free education is being provided to them. Whose fault is it that they'd rather socialize on Facebook, text their friends and play on their X-Box?

    Sure, everyone wants to attend the schools in the more affluent zip codes. Those are the areas where the parents expect to send their kids to college (and can afford it). Even the teachers would rather teach there. So what happens when you allow kids to attend schools outside their neighborhood? Transportation costs eat into the district's budget. Parents are less involved in the remote school. A schism is created between the schools everyone wants to go to and the schools they used to go to; the latter becoming stigmatized.

    Here's a better idea: How about sending more resources to the schools that need them instead of sending the kids to the more affluent schools? But I guess that makes too much sense to those who only think of their child instead of the district as a whole.

    January 25, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  47. MYOB_n_BYOB

    I work in a school of choice as a full time teacher. I've been teaching for 12 years. The students must not only apply, but undergo an interview process to gain admission to a school with limited enrollment. Even so, a "school of choice" doesn't mean that the kids will do any better. Despite online assignments, grades, laptops, extended teacher hours, and all the bells and whistles that so many proponents of charter schools love to tout, I still have students that fail because they lack the motivation, work ethic, and attitude to succeed. Not in every case, and not in every place, but sometimes, just sometimes, it's not the fault of the schools or the teachers– some kids are just lousy students. Guess what? They go on to be lousy adults too; the ones you see on Jerry Springer and the police blotter section of the paper. Until we change the attitude of the public in general towards education, teachers, and schools– and more importantly, start holding students a lot more accountable instead of coddling and babying them– there is going to be a failure of education in this country.

    January 25, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  48. jim

    Many of you seem a little surprised that Campanella appears to have made up his encouraging "statistics". That's what reformers do. They count on the fact that most people won't have any personal experience with the program or bother to find out the truth. That makes them feel free to lie their @s$es off to advance their personal agendas.

    January 25, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  49. will

    Hw appears to be another high paid lobbyist.

    January 25, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  50. will

    Has this guy ever taught in a real public school?

    January 25, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • JOSE0311USMC


      January 25, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  51. usamerica777

    long overdue

    January 25, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
  52. teacherdude

    I teach in a large urban district with school choice. The good schools fill up and then the kids who have parents that are not involved or unable to fill out paperwork due to lack of knowledge, language barriers, etc. are sent to the failing schools. It creates a system of great schools and horrible schools. I have taught at both and am lucky to now be at one of the good schools. It also creates a problem for parent and student involvement since many are not able to travel the great distance from the other side of the city for extra curricular activities using public transportation. What was a 20 minute bus ride turns into an 1.5 hour ride one way if the school is no longer in the neighborhood. He should probably look at actual data from districts that have school choice. I think he would find that most have very low performing schools.

    January 25, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
  53. am brown

    The problem with letting people choose their school is funding. It would have to be made equal to all schools, then people would be less likely to vote for levies. The real problem with education is the parent or parents. Most kids that do not succeed come from homes that do not care. They expect someone else to educate their children, they think that's not their job! Wrong!!! We live in an affluent area, and although my kids now go to a private school, they went to public school for kindergarten and first grade. You could always tell what kind of family someone came from, not by their clothes but by how involved their parents were with their education. Not always, but 90% of the time.These kids came into class late, often tired and missed a fair amount of school. Most did not have homework done and their parents never worked with them. This is a big problem, not the quality of education in schools. Something needs to be done about the parents.

    January 25, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • Shanno

      Let me guess – you teach in a public school. Do you have any children? I have three who attend a public charter school. I thank my lucky stars every day that we have school choice in Ohio. We tried public schools. It quickly became painfully obvious that my children's teachers didn't know them and stuck teaching the same things year after year – no matter if it worked or not. Parent communication was minimal. When I finally got a teacher to talk to me, they nodded and ignored what I was saying. Three months into our charter school, my kids teachers could spout out the kids' strengths and weaknesses and offered suggestions on things I can do at home to help.

      You can have good or bad teachers at any school. But my charter school focuses on treating the kids as individuals. The school does seek to nurture and challange the students. I have no doubt this will assist my children in whatever they choose in life. I feel safe sending them there every day knowing they will be treated with respect and not like a number.

      Can't say enough good about school choice. It worked for us – from my gifted child to my child who needed reading help to my child who needed speach therapy.

      January 25, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
      • SchoolTeacher

        You are lucky to have found a good charter school for your children. Many are businesses that operate to make a profit, not to educate children. They staff the schools with the cheapest teachers they can hire, import Teachers for America who lack even basic teaching skills and manipulate curriculum and instruction to produce good test scores rather than skilled, thinking and creative students. Schools are not businesses and students are not products to be manufactured on assembly lines. White Hat and other corporations are stealing money from Ohio taxpayers and are leaving our children without the benefit being educated for their world.

        School choice sounds like the ideal bandaid to place on our gaping wound. It is another simple solution to a very complex problem that will further have very negative unanticipated consequences. Public education is in desperate need of an overhaul. Getting universities, school administrators and classroom teachers together to fix the system would be an obvious place to start. Putting educational reform in the hands of elected politicians who pander to interest groups and corporations that are looking to rake in more tax dollars is not a solution that will help our children.

        January 25, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
      • Perspective

        What was mentioned before, but people tend to neglect, is that most parents would love choice, and that is a problem because undoubtedly all of those same parents would probably choose the same charter schools for their child to attend. I doubt that charter schools can accept all the children that want to go to their schools without suffering in educational quality, and what happens to those that could not get in? Choice is an idea, but education reform needs a solution that is not so polarizing.

        January 25, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • freedom

      Thanks to school choice my daughter is excelling in middle school. Last year she tried the local school but do to moving to a small community the school was very hard for her to fit into now we transport her 24 miles to a larger school with better curricular options and she is blossoming into an outgoing friendly and above average student. I understand how some of you feel but it really is an excellent thing. and as far as family economics go we are considered poverty level but that has never affected my children s education experience. I know wealthy parents that dont give a crud about their children s education but people like us know that the only way to keep your kids in school and doing well is to push and fight to be allowed to send your children to the best fit school. Most parents goals are to give their kids the chance for a better life not pull them down into the poverty abyss. When quoting statistics there needs to be a differentiating between poverty level and welfare recipients, there is a huge difference between those of us who live on little but without welfare and those who live off the system.

      January 25, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • Jim Smiley

      It's hard sometimes to juggle two or three jobs, get kids to and from school, see that they're supervised while the parent(s) are away working, and then try to oversee their homework. You should try it sometime, and then tell me how much theses parents don't care about their children's education.

      January 25, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
      • Wondering

        Kudos to you for working so hard but read the blog again and try to understand it wasn't directed at you personally. Bottom line is whether you have two or three jobs is irrelevant. Whether you shuttle your kids around is irrelevant. Whether you have time to oversee their homework or not is, in fact, irrelevant. They are your children and if you want them to be successful, you will do all of the things you are now doing without a pat on the back for being a good parent. Just like those who teach don’t expect a pat on the back for being good teachers; you shouldn’t expect a pat on the back for being an involved parent. The fact remains however, that most parents aren’t involved and many of the students who fail do so because of their parents. A parent is a child’s most important teacher!

        January 25, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
      • professionalstudent

        We call that "parenthood," and lots of people have tried it (intentionally or otherwise:) and succeeded. If you can't, try to develop a support system that will allow you to find the time to pay some attention to your children's education – beyond just checking to see if they're "supervised" while you're not there.

        January 26, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  54. aflarend

    There is lot of evidence that refutes Mr. Campanella's claims.
    According to the Journal Sentinel in March,2011, the voucher schools standardized test scores were lower than the public schools. For example, in reading, voucher schools had 55% proficient and the public school average was 59%. In math, 34.4% of the voucher students were proficient compared to 47.8% average in public schools.
    Since we know that poverty affects learning, the article compared students with similar socioeconomc status and found no difference in scores. The vouchers made no difference.
    Same idea for the DC program. According to IES, there was no satistically significant difference in test scores on the voucher students compared to non voucher students.
    This article presents false information.

    January 25, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Jamie

      Way to go CNN! Another useless article that belongs in the trash.

      January 25, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • Shanno

      You can't take a kid who is failing, put him in a good school and expect him to get better scores that year. We won't know the results for years. But I'm betting on charters.

      January 25, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
      • aflarend

        The Milwaukee system has been in place for many years, not just one. As far as charters, many have been in place for years also. Check out the Stanford CREDO study for data about the ineffectiveness of charter also. Basically, what I gather after researching this for quite some time is that
        1) that people have called our public schools failing for over 70 years
        2) there is absolutely no silver bullet in the school's arsenal that can erase the debilitating effects of poverty on learning except with some well thought out and wel funded programs that include not only the cold, but the family and the community

        January 25, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
      • aflarend

        The Milwaukee system has been in place for many years, not just one. As far as charters, many have been in place for years also. Check out the Stanford CREDO study for data about the ineffectiveness of charter schools also. Or look to the horrible conditions of Florida's for-profit charter schools.

        January 25, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  55. logic23

    It did not take too long to find evidence contrary to what was presented here.
    According to Journal Sentinel newspaper on March 29,2011, (note MPS = Milwaukee Public Schools) "MPS results overall showed 59% of students scoring proficient or better in reading, while 47.8% of students scored proficient or better in math. In the voucher program, 55.2% of students scored proficient or better in reading while 34.4% of students scored proficient or better in math. Note that the voucher schools had fewer proficient students

    And when the comparison is made with students in similar socioeconomic status, the vouchers schools did not do better. “The percentage of low-income students in MPS proficient or better in reading – 55.3% – was about the same as the voucher program (55.2%), which currently serves only low-income students”.

    Same for the DC voucher program. According to Institute of Education Science “No evidence of a statistically significant difference in test scores between students who were offered an OSP scholarship and students who were not offered a scholarship.”

    Mr. Campanella has provided no evidence that school choice works. The evidence that he does supply is false.

    January 25, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  56. logic23

    Why are no New Orleans achievement data given, only parent satisfaction? Also, there are no studies cited, so where is the hard evidence?

    January 25, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  57. aflarend

    I find it interesting that the Milwaukee schools are discussed when there is no evidence of overwhelming success. According to Journal Sentinel newspaper on March 29,2011, (note MPS = Milwaukee Public Schools) "MPS results overall showed 59% of students scoring proficient or better in reading, while 47.8% of students scored proficient or better in math. In the voucher program, 55.2% of students scored proficient or better in reading while 34.4% of students scored proficient or better in math. Note that the voucher schools had fewer proficient students
    And when the comparison is made with students in similar socioeconomic status, the vouchers schools did not do better. “The percentage of low-income students in MPS proficient or better in reading – 55.3% – was about the same as the voucher program (55.2%), which currently serves only low-income students”.
    Same for the DC voucher program. According to Institute of Education Science “No evidence of a statistically significant difference in test scores between students who were offered an OSP scholarship and students who were not offered a scholarship.”
    I also find it interesting that the New Orleans “data” was given in terms of parent satisfaction rather than any measure of achievement.
    Mr. Campanella has provided no evidence that school choice works. The evidence that he does supply is false.

    January 25, 2012 at 9:38 am |
  58. Jamie

    The problem with the "archaic central planning that told us that if you live in one ZIP code, you can choose only one public school" is the education dollars that sit in the rich neighborhoods and are insufficient in the poor ones. Education spending needs to be made equal.

    School choice is a red herring.

    January 25, 2012 at 9:11 am |