How About School Choice for Decatur, Georgia?

|

The AP reports:

A Georgia county school district lost its accreditation Thursday, an unusual move blamed in part on what has been called a "dysfunctional" school board.

Clayton County Commissioner Eldrin Bell confirmed the loss of accreditation shortly before the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools announced it.

The association issued a scathing report in February calling Clayton County's school board "dysfunctional" and "fatally flawed." It gave the district until Sept. 1 to overhaul the system.

A team from the association visited last week to review whether the 50,000-student school district had done enough to keep its accreditation and decided it had not.

Meanwhile, Gov. Sonny Perdue issued an executive order Thursday ousting four board members after a judge recommended removing them for violating Georgia's open meetings laws and ethics code.

Losing accreditation means students who graduate from the suburban Atlanta district won't be eligible for some scholarships or admission to many colleges. It also could drive down property values in the county and hurt economic development, community leaders have said.

More here.

This is as good an argument for school choice as can be made. Not because private schools or charter schools or…voluntary schools never fail but precisely because they do. When any institution has to survive by attracting customers or money or whatever, they don't always succeed but their failure is also not catastrophic.

How many of the 50,000 students in that district would have still been there at the bitter end given the option to go elsewhere? If they'd been given a voucher good for part or all of the cost that useless board was spending on them? And would the schools in the system have been quicker to reform and improve if they knew they'd lose their funding (which they surely will not)?  

reason on education here.

Advertisement

NEXT: If You're Reading This, You Could Be Reading Reason's Live Coverage of the Democratic National Convention

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. There’s a certain argument for school choice that I have never been able to get past for people who aren’t already pro-privatization.
    How do you handle transportation? Can that be handled by voucher as well? You can make the argument that inner-city families cannot afford to choose better schools in better neighborhoods because they cannot get their children to the schools.

  2. A slight correction. School choice currently exists in every district in America.

    You don’t really support school choice, you support subsidizing that choice with tax payer dollars.

    I pay roughly $4,500.00 per year in school taxes despite the fact that I have no children attending schools and never have. I don’t mind, but I don’t have a “choice” in the matter. Additionally my business pays taxes to the local district. Again, no choice.

    But in most cases, homeowners don’t pay for public education. Businesses do. And it’s the responsibility of both to ensure that money is spent wisely. If they don’t, they’ll face lagging property values and an ignorant work force.

    And why can’t I also have fire and police protection choice? Or garbage collection choice?

    The answer is obvious to me, and I cut the checks as required. But to some, it’s like plasma physics and I’ve never understood why.

    Buy hey, if you manage to get a voucher system set up be sure to tell me how to apply for my voucher.

  3. Davebo,
    you don’t understand what school choice refers to. Don’t redefine the term.
    the fact that people without children pay taxes that go towards public education is an argument for a different day, but it’s easy to argue that everybody pays in to the system because society as a whole has a tremendous interest in education.
    What libertarians want is a system where taxes pay for education, so that you have equal opportunity and protection for every income demographic, but the schools themselves are private and individuals get to choose which school the government pays for them to attend.

  4. How do you handle transportation?

    In order to get low-income students to the public high school I attended, they were given free bus passes. You wouldn’t need to change a thing to get them to a different school. It’s probably cheaper than school buses.

  5. Dave B.
    ok duh. That makes a lot of sense.

  6. Davebo, tax paid public education in America is not ever going away. In that context School Choice refers to the right of the student to leave a poorly performing school and enroll in a better one.

    There are many variations on that theme from San Francisco’s citywide open enrollment to vouchers that a kid can take to the public or private school of choice.

    One of the better ideas to date is weighted student funding where the per-pupil state funding follows the student to whatever public school is chosen.

    Of course, if I was God, I’d abolish tax-paid public education in a heartbeat.

  7. Did the Decatur schools move to Clayton county?

  8. 50,000 students. that’s like a medium large state university going belly-up.

  9. Perhaps the intention in mentioning Decatur is irony, as the city of Decatur has some of the highest ranked schools in the metro Atlanta area.

  10. Pinette

    I understand exactly what school choice refers to. It refers to a parents right to choose which school their child attends. That’s pretty simple right? So since you claimed I re-defined the term, perhaps you could provide us with your definition.

    As for your declaration of “What we Libertarians want” I can only laugh.

    There is certainly no consensus among those of us who claim to be Libertarians. Or, for that matter Republicans or Democrats.

    But as I define Libertarianism the idea of either paying for the first class education upgrade, or going to all private schools fits well.

    Since the latter is really not an alternative, what choice are we left with?

  11. The “Decatur” puzzled me too. They are in DeKalb county and have a separate city school system from the County (much higher taxes to pay for it too).

    From the dateline, I would assume the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation group is located in Decatur.

    Regardless, Decatur is the County seat of DeKalb County and is not in Clayton county.

  12. Hey, SIV, you’re just the guy I been looking for.

    I see you were protesting in Denver.

  13. SACS is located in Decatur.

  14. Private schools are for rich people.

    Therefore, “We The People” detest them.

    Also, if we allowed school vouchers, there’d be very few white kids and asian kids left in public schools.

    That might in turn cause statistics to look bad.

  15. On transportation, we have school choice in Ireland and one of the unfortunate side effects is really terrible traffic in pretty much any town with more than 5,000 people in the morning and when school lets out. Unless the public transport infrastructure is ready to cope with kids travelling not to the nearest school, but to the school of their choice, you can expect the same in the US. The difference in traffic patterns in and out of term is truly astonishing. One of the key benefits, in my opinion, of the public school system in the States is the use of school buses, which keep many many cars off the road. Basically, be prepared to pay some unexpected costs – totally unrelated to education, by the way – if somehow school vouchers become the norm.

  16. Decatur is in Dekalb County. Jonesboro is in Clayton County.

  17. Every time a good argument is made for school choice, someone like now ex-Colorado politician John Andrews undercuts that argument. From his columns in the Denver Post, it appears that Mr. Andrews regards education from kindergarten to Ph.D as too good for the common folk. His idea of school choice is abandoning all tax-payer support for education, with those who can’t afford school tuition relying on El Patron for charitable assistance and scholarships.

    Right wing-nuts like this guy have done more harm to the school choice movement than all the teachers’ union members put together.

  18. His idea of school choice is abandoning all tax-payer support for education, with those who can’t afford school tuition relying on El Patron for charitable assistance and scholarships.

    You know, in the 19th century, many people couldn’t afford shoes. It was only thanks to public shoe distribution, where the government used property taxes to supply shoes to the poor, that the poor have access to shoes.

    Imagine if the government stopped the public shoes program. We’d rapidly go back to the evil days of the 19th century, where the free market supplied shoes only to the rich, and the poor got nothing.

  19. Crap- preview is my frind, preview is my friend…

    Trying again:

    His idea of school choice is abandoning all tax-payer support for education, with those who can’t afford school tuition relying on El Patron for charitable assistance and scholarships.

    You know, in the 19th century, many people couldn’t afford shoes. It was only thanks to public shoe distribution, where the government used property taxes to supply shoes to the poor, that the poor have access to shoes.

    Imagine if the government stopped the public shoes program. We’d rapidly go back to the evil days of the 19th century, where the free market supplied shoes only to the rich, and the poor got nothing.

  20. As has been pointed out more or less by some earlier posters, the title of the post is a little mistaken…

    Decatur, GA = Where the SACS accreditation board is located. These are the folks who took the accreditation away from Clayton County. The press conference was here. It’s in DeKalb County. The city of Decatur has its own school system, and some families living outside the city hatch plots to get their kids into Decatur’s schools.

    Clayton County, GA = The county that lost its accreditation. Completely different location from Decatur.

  21. TWC,

    “Choice refers to the right of the student to leave a poorly performing school and enroll in a better one. ”

    Did you mean “ability go leave”?

    I agree with Davebo, If I’m paying I want a say in what kind of schools kids can attend using tax funded vouchers. No religious schools, no schools with sports beyond intramural.

  22. no schools with sports beyond intramural.

    Ahh, but you pay now, yet the quarterback is still king of every public high school.

    Actually, I agree with you about high school athletics. The last time I said that here I got splattered with tomatoes and rotten eggs.

    As to your main point, context is everything.

    Imagine how crappy a college education would be if your choice in higher education was limited to whatever college was within a three mile radius of your house?

    Now, you can argue that college students pay for their education, but for the most part, unless they’re going to Harvard, the taxpayers are paying the lion’s share of the cost of college education through direct state funding, and indirect student loans and grants.

    Not a perfect system but better than the k-12 public education system where the community college system exists to teach all the stuff that the high schools did not.

    As I indicated before, I’m all for outright abolition of tax paid public education, but that is not going to happen.

    Wherever an element of competition has been introduced into public education, schools have improved. That can take any number of forms.

    I like open district enrollment where the money follows the kid to whatever school she wants to go to. It eliminates the voucher issue and forces failing schools out of business.

    I also like charter schools like Green Dot in Los Angeles.

    See Reason.tv Unlocked for a nice synopsis of what kind of shit the public school monopoly has for some kids.

    Public education should not include Being Shot In The Head lessons.

  23. “Imagine how crappy a college education would be if your choice in higher education was limited to whatever college was within a three mile radius of your house?”

    Patented Libertarian response…

    If there’s a demand for that school people will move there. Other schools will adopt the successful school’s policies to attract more students.

    “I like open district enrollment where the money follows the kid to whatever school she wants to go to.”

    I could support that.

    I still advocate a pared down curriculum- English composition, math, science, and history. With more advanced courses springing from these.

    Sports, music, drama, save for the community.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.