Monday, July 29, 2013

Rand Paul Op-Ed on School Choice

Rand Paul (along with Senators Lee, McConnell, Scott and Alexander) has penned an op-ed on School Choice in the Huffington Post:

As the Wall Street Journal noted in 2010, 2,000 of the nation's 20,000 high schools produce roughly 50 percent of all dropouts, and African-American children have a 50/50 chance of having to attend one of these so-called "dropout factories."

According to the Census Bureau, in 2011 the average dropout over age 25 earned just $18,796 while the average high school graduate without a bachelor's degree earned $26,699 -- a full 42 percent more. A high school graduate who goes on to earn a bachelor's degree will earn nearly 100 percent more, on average, then a high-school dropout.

Choice breeds competition -- which is the best way to improve schools. It creates a powerful incentive for schools to get better, while at the same time creating much-needed options for children trapped in less than satisfactory schools. That is exactly what we see when public charter schools are allowed to expand.

In Washington, D.C., the 41 percent of students who attend charter schools learn the equivalent of 72 days more in reading and 101 days more in math each year than similar students attending district schools, according to a Stanford University study.

In short, school choice has given poor, mostly minority families the hope that government has not. Young boys and girls, who might not have otherwise had the opportunity to excel, have become successful men and women leaders in their communities--due to receiving a better education than they otherwise would have.

Despite its overwhelming success -- and basic justice -- many bureaucrats defend their broken status quo, and see school choice not as an opportunity, but as a threat. Our children deserve better than a system that puts bureaucrats' wants before students' needs. Parents deserve better than being forced to pay for policies that trap their own children in failing schools, while denying them the equal educational opportunities that better paid politicians and bureaucrats enjoy.

Great schools are born in communities, not bureaucracies. At Boys Latin in Philadelphia, kids are taught Latin for four years. They are taught discipline and citizenship. This year, over 95 percent of their graduates will go on to college.

The current 20th century, centralized bureaucratic model has dropped American education to 17th in the world, even as the international economy turns toward technologies and industries that depend of education more than ever before in human history.

We need a new direction. To succeed globally, we need to educate locally.

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