School Choice

How About a Catalog of Which School Choice Options Are (and Are Not) Available?

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School Choice Catalog

Many years ago, I worked for an Arizona-based school choice organization that is no more (not to worry; its work is being done, rather more effectively, by other organizations). Among the benefits of that job was becoming very familiar with the impressive education options available in our state. In fact, Arizona has among the widest menu of schools, non-schools and creative approaches for absorbing information in the country. Even homeschooling, which is barely tolerated in some states, is relatively painless and free of red tape. (Although charter schools and traditional public schools are increasingly bogged down in regulation here, as they are everywhere). But finding out about some of these options can be challenging, since there's no source for one-stop shopping. Enter the Goldwater Institute, which has published A Parent's Guide to School Choice to close the information gap.

The guide breaks Arizona education options out into six categories:

  • Open Enrollment: The ability to enroll in any public school in the state, regardless of district boundaries.
  • Private School Scholarships: Businesses and individuals can make tax-deductible domations to funds that pay private school tuition to those who meet the fund's criteria.
  • Empowerment Scholarship Accounts: Part of the state's per-pupil education funding is available to be used for tuition, tutoring and other education expenses.
  • Homeschool: Technically, you're supposed to file a notarized affidavit with the local school district, just to let them know you're homeschooling.
  • Online or "Virtual" Schools: Public or private, offering a full education or in as a complement to classroom work or homeschooling.
  • Charter Schools: Privately managed public schools offering a wide variety of curricula and approaches.

The Goldwater Institute is calling for the state to start publishing its own school choice catalog:

A school choice catalog could be produced by the state at no additional cost to the general fund. Under the No Child Left Behind Act, Arizona receives almost $350 million every year to help children succeed through services like tutoring and increasing parent engagement (the funding source is known as Title I). The department's production of an annually mailed school choice catalog would qualify for this funding as an effort to increase parent engagement in children's education.

Frankly, though, I think a federally funded, state government-published, catalog will end up as a non-stop pissing contest over the proper presentation of each option and whether a certain phrasing disparages somebody's favorite choice … And, to be honest, Arizona depends too much on federal funding already.

I think the school choice catalog is a great idea, and I'd rather see it remain in private hands — either with Goldwater or another private group that can use voluntarily raised funds to publish as it sees fit.

I'd also like to see similar catalogs published everywhere, so that families can more easily see what options are available to them, and what options are not. Catalogs published in states with minimal choice could even offer side-by-side comparisons to what's available elsewhere, so that people would know what they're missing.

That's probably not a feature that tax-funded catalogs are likely to offer anytime soon.

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  1. Open enrollment is too progressive for my tastes. It is basically another form of wealth transfer.

    1. i don’t follow that. Per-pupil money is the same regardless of the school within a particular system, AFIK. Where is the negative connotation of transfer when a parent decides to put Junior outside teh district?

      1. Per-pupil $ is probably only the same within a town or county or something, not the whole state. Though of course I don’t know within AZ.

      2. It depends on how the schools are funded, I suppose, but as far as I can tell there is no requirement on the parents who openly enroll their children in the best school districts to pay the difference in property or other taxes that give that school the ability to be better than others.

        I would support open enrollment if there were two caveats: (1) the school could turn down children who are discipline problems or otherwise don’t fit within the intellectual fabric of the school; and (2) the parents had to make up the difference in taxes.

        1. #2 doesn’t really apply as school systems are socialistic in this regard. School funding is tossed into a big pot and divided from there; tax rates are not a factor.

          The very parents that you would ask to pay the tax differential are the ones who would take advantage of the plan. The whole point of open enrollment is so parents in poor neighborhoods are not tied to what are (usually) the lowest-performing schools in a system.

          1. #2 doesn’t really apply as school systems are socialistic in this regard. School funding is tossed into a big pot and divided from there; tax rates are not a factor.

            Not in my state.

            The very parents that you would ask to pay the tax differential are the ones who would take advantage of the plan.

            So you mean I am asking people to pay for the services they use?

            The whole point of open enrollment is so parents in poor neighborhoods are not tied to what are (usually) the lowest-performing schools in a system.

            Right, in other words, wealthy people are expected to subsidize poor people. Which is why I called it a wealth transfer.

            1. wealthy people subsidize poor people in EVERY public school system, not just the ones with open enrollment. The open system is an avenue for willing parents to take their kids to better schools.

              Public systems are inherently socialist; the per-pupil amount is consistent from school to school within a jurisdiction. Some schools have more or better stuff because parents put in money independent of property taxes. And this isn’t states; it’s school systems which usually means cities and/or counties.

              1. wealthy people subsidize poor people in EVERY public school system, not just the ones with open enrollment. The open system is an avenue for willing parents to take their kids to better schools.

                That subsidy is at least limited to the community in question in non-open-enrollment states.

                Public systems are inherently socialist; the per-pupil amount is consistent from school to school within a jurisdiction. Some schools have more or better stuff because parents put in money independent of property taxes.

                I don’t think you know how schools are funded in most states. In most states, yes, the state provides a minimum but the rest comes from local property taxes. The schools that have more and better stuff are because the property taxes are high. And because the property taxes are high, it yields a better class of individuals entering the local school. That’s a harsh reality, but it’s true.

                1. I think you are arguing across each other.

                  Open enrollment generally means anywhere within the school district, not anywhere within the state.

                  1. I was taking the definition from the OP:

                    Open Enrollment: The ability to enroll in any public school in the state, regardless of district boundaries.

                    1. “I was taking the definition from the OP:

                      Open Enrollment: The ability to enroll in any public school in the state, regardless of district boundaries.”

                      Yes but if you’re living in Phoenix you’re not going to enroll your kids in school in Tucson.

                2. I don’t think you know how schools are funded in most states

                  shocking as it seems, yes I do. For the most part, property taxes are used for schools at the local level and, at least in places I’ve lived, the state kicks in a chunk. Property taxes are not allocated per school district, they are tossed into a pot for the system as a whole and go from there.

                  The schools that have more and better stuff are because the property taxes are high.

                  that cause and effect is simply not the case. Those schools have nicer stuff because the parents are more willing to pay for it independently. For instance, athletic or band boosters hold fundraisers or write personal checks, but they are not utilizing general fund dollars.

                  That subsidy is at least limited to the community in question in non-open-enrollment states.

                  “States” does not mean a kid who lives in Phoenix goes to school in Tuscon through open enrollment; it means he/she is not consigned to the neighborhood school.

                  1. “States” does not mean a kid who lives in Phoenix goes to school in Tuscon through open enrollment; it means he/she is not consigned to the neighborhood school.

                    According to the OP, it does mean that a kid who lives in Phoenix can go to school in Tuscon.

                    1. According to the OP, it does mean that a kid who lives in Phoenix can go to school in Tuscon.

                      in literal terms, maybe. In practical terms, come on now. Logistics, man.

                    2. Yeah, but it could easily mean that a kid who lives in an inner city gets to go to school in the nice suburb all the fancy people fled to.

            2. Right, in other words, wealthy people are expected to subsidize poor people. Which is why I called it a wealth transfer.

              School is a wealth transfer. People without kids have to pay for schools as well (in my state) through property taxes. I would prefer full private schooling. Want to send your kid to secular school, religious school, trade school, take your pick; and you pay for it.

              1. I would prefer this as well. But that would require extensive revisions to all 50 state constitutions, which require the state in question (and yes, I believe all 50 of them do state this) to provide public schooling.

                So, in that reality, I would prefer to keep community-based schools rather than have direct wealth transfers. What do you do when you’re in the best school district and you have to fight to get your own kid into your own district because the seats are all gone?

                1. I would prefer to keep community-based schools rather than have direct wealth transfers

                  you get that the Phoenix or LA Unified or, for that matter, Podunk School System is a collective, right? It has a specific amount of money based on ad valorem collections plus whatever the state gives the jurisdiction. That money is then allocated on a per-pupil basis across every school within that system regardless of the income level of specific neighborhoods.

                  Open transfer was created so kid in a failing school is not trapped there unless his family is able to move to a better district. His school is not allocated less on a per-pupil basis than the school in a more expensive neighborhood; it just tends to be a school where, for various reasons, kids do better, parents are more involved, and learning is valued.

                  1. Again, I don’t think you understand how funding is provided in many states. Most schools are in fact funded primarily by local revenue, not on the “big old pot” basis.

                    Alright, I’ll say this – at least that’s the way my state funds schools. I understood that most others did as well.

        2. Almost all of AZ’ cities have the schools under the control of one district – the are a few legacy school districts left over but most are inside a “unified school district”.

          Essentially the majority of schools within a given city are feeding out of the same trough.

  2. What happened to “My School, My Choice”?

    1. How about a compromise – send your dead children to the school of your choice.

      1. Can’t we just have an abortion school? I know you’d love that.

        1. I’d send my kids!

          1. I’ve already sent a few of mine! I’m an early adopter!

            1. You just always want to appear hipper and edgier than me. I’ll show you!

        2. Tell your mom I said hi.

        3. Wait, is it school for the aborted, or are we employing child labor to do the abortions (such small dexterous hands!)? There are so many good options here.

          1. Leave this to the non-breeding breeders, jesse.

            1. Homophobe

              /cliche

        4. If Suzie gets pregnant with six babies, but aborts ten of them, how many babies is Suzie burdened with for the remainder of her life?

          1. Suzie was banging six babies? That’s sick, dude.

            1. You idiot, that would be “pregnant by” not “pregnant with.” You’re lucky I responded before nicole did.

              1. Well I hope you get fucked sideways “by” a bicycle tire pump.

              2. He is.

                1. Which one of us are you responding to?

                  Y’know what, never mind. I…I’m not sure I want to know.

                  1. To you, Hugh. But how’s the bicycle tire pump?

                    1. We had another argument last night. I ended up sleeping on the couch.

                    2. You know you don’t have to take that from him, right?

                    3. But I’m so fat and old. What other piece of maintenance equipment would even have me?

                    4. Sometimes you’re better off on your own.

                    5. You sound exactly like that prostitute who won’t get in my car anymore.

                    6. How nice is your car? I can sound different…

  3. One thing that’s worse than government deciding what children learn is parents deciding what children learn.

    1. Needs a German accent.

    2. because govt and children are staffed exclusively by non-parents?

      1. No, but most parents are idiots.

        1. Yours obviously were.

          1. It’s possible, and perhaps the reason I find the idea of “school choice” frightening and the concept of homeschooling revolting.

            1. and yet, you are silent on the abysmal failure that is union-led public education. There is a reason the worst performing school on most college campuses can be found in the Education Dept.

              1. ^ This x 10^31

                Anyone who has taught at the college level knows this. Even my truther-OWS-Chomsky colleagues know this…

            2. Strangely, all those idiotic parents appear to do better at educating their children than the scientific and academically trained elite corps of public school teachers and administrators chosen by the government.

              So if the average person is an idiot, and you do worse at a task than the average person, that means you are…?

              1. Sub-moron? Idiot plus? Progressive Obama voter?

                Didn’t there use to be an official scale or something?

        2. “Tony|3.19.13 @ 1:11PM|#

          No, but most parents are idiots.”

          I’d rather my own set of idiots fuck me up than give the opportunity to hundreds of random idiots.

          1. I don’t understadn how you can sit there and say that most parents are idiots and then claim that the government (staffed by the same idiots) is so much better.

    3. One thing that’s worse than government deciding what children learn is parents deciding what children learn.

      Who should decide then?

      1. Government.

        1. Government.

          And who makes up government?

          1. Ideally, educated and well-informed elected representatives.

            Sorry, I didn’t mean to say parents in general shouldn’t be a part of building curricula, just that leaving children’s education up to their own parents is a horrifying idea.

            1. Just because your parents were miserable failures at raising a critical thinking, fully realized, human being doesn’t mean other parents will be failures.

              1. But most will.

                Then are you gonna blame their idiot children for being stupid and poor when they’re adults?

            2. Ideally, educated and well-informed elected representatives.

              Sorry, I didn’t mean to say parents in general shouldn’t be a part of building curricula, just that leaving children’s education up to their own parents is a horrifying idea.

              And these representatives might be parents. Basically you are saying that it is ok for parents to choose where other peoples kids go to school, but not their own. As long as they are the “properly educated” parents.

              1. And I have no problem with parents sending their kids to private school, provided the school meets government-mandated standards.

                1. And I have no problem with parents sending their kids to private school, provided the school meets government-mandated standards.
                  ———————-
                  there is so much wrong with this sentence, it is hard to know where to start.

                  1. It is clearly a sockpuppet. The logic it is using in this thread is… faulty. Ignore it.

                2. provided the school meets government-mandated standards.

                  Cause they are doing a bang up job at educating kids. You really are a piece of work, and are the type of person I wouldn’t want anywhere near my child’s education. If you have kids, you educate them as you think best, and I will do the same.

                  1. And if you’re a religious nut who wants to teach your kids that Jesus rode a dinosaur? Whose fault will it be when I have to support him with public assistance when he grows up to be an unemployable moron?

                    1. Whose fault will it be when I have to support him with public assistance when he grows up to be an unemployable moron?

                      Yours, since you were the one who voted to support him in the first place.

                3. And I have no problem with parents sending their kids to private school, provided the school meets government-mandated standards.

                  WHY?

            3. Ideally, educated and well-informed elected representatives.

              Representatives that are elected by the parents that you think are incapable of making informed decisions regarding their children’s education… you fucking moron.

          2. People who think if they wish hard enough, they can fly without mechanical aid.

            1. All you have to do is throw yourself at the ground and miss.

              1. +42.

                Of course, people in government believe this, because they think they have the power to repeal gravity and other laws of physics.

          3. And who makes up government?

            People who were voted into office by idiot parents.

        2. Derp.

    4. Once again, fuck you Tony.

      Inspired by my own public education I homeschooled 7 kids. All but one went to college and is doing very well.

      All I can do anymore is laugh at your shitheadedness.

      1. Actually I commented before I read the conversation.

        I agree, Tony is a sockpuppet who cranks out absurd lefty talking points just to get us going.

        One has to laugh.

      2. Inspired by my own public education I homeschooled 7 kids. All but one went to college and is doing very well.

        Shouldn’t that be Suthenoldman, then?

        Jesus, your comments have really slipped since you went on the wagon, you teetotalling ‘tard.

  4. Why a full color printed catalog? Why not a nifty little postcard directing people to the internet? The website could be called goldwaterinstitute.org/schoolchoice or something similar.

    Every last person in America has internet access.

    1. Well, the important ones do.

  5. Many years ago, I worked for an Arizona-based school choice organization…

    Uh, a little late in the game to be making this full disclosure, isn’t it? This whole time I’ve been reading you without a hint of a clue of a notion that you’re bringing to reason a completely biased attitude for school choice.

    Most transparent magazine ever, my ass.

    1. It’s true. I’ve been concealing my sinister agenda.

      1. I didn’t know you were left-handed.

        1. Most ambidextrous magazine ever, my ass.

    2. If they tell me who that Arizona-based school choice organization voted for in the last presidential election, I’ll cut them some slack.

  6. I see no black children on the cover of that notebook.

    Therefore, it’s racist.

    1. See the pant leg on the right? That is the black kid, so all is good.

    2. The one out in front better have his papers ready for Sheriff Joe.

      1. That fence in the background? It’s the border fence. Those kids are coming from Mexico to steal American kids’ allowance and do all their homework for them.

    3. You doofus, everyone knows that it’s too hot for black people in Arizona. They’re not really built to handle the heat.

      1. *slow clap*

  7. …either with Goldwater or another private group that can use voluntarily raised funds to publish as it sees fit.

    In my day, we used to put that kind of information out on the internet.

  8. Rumor has it that we will be trotted out in from of Hizzoner John Kerry this afternoon. Where is my Gary Johnson button when I need it?!?!?

    1. If you get a chance, cup a fart and throw it in his face for me.

    2. *in front of

    3. If you get to introduce yourself, just say “Hello, I’m Mr Ed.”

    4. Throw some medals at him?

    5. You have a button that calls Gary Johnson to come rescue you when pressed? Where do I sign up for this service. I assume, since he is libertarian, that there is a monthly service fee.

    6. Get an image of Bigboi, and use meme generator “Bitch, I voted for Gary Johnson.”

      1. Bring a life-sized cardboard cut-out of Rand Paul.

      2. I endorse this suggestion.

    7. I may have posted this before …

      I shared an elevator with him once after he lost in 2004 and did not take to opportunity to ask, “senator, why the long face?”

      but, he waived me on to the senators only elevator.

    8. I have noticed this about politicians; if you can catch his eye and hold his gaze, make a poker face, but with a very slight look of disgust and keep your eyes locked on his.

      This makes them very very uncomfortable. Sometimes it will fluster them and they will stumble in their speech.

      I did this successfully a couple of times, but most memorably to Alexander Haig. About a half hour later a couple of ‘random guys’ introduced themselves to me and wanted to know all about me. It was hilarious.

      1. You were fucking with Al Haig’s emotions? You’re lucky you didn’t end up as a corpse, abandoned in some salt marsh on the Chesapeake Bay.

      2. Sounds like fun, but really, that will make almost anybody uncomfortable.

    9. Sadly, no sign of him at our meeting. Ah well. Maybe there will be other opportunities.

      I am enraged, though, because we pretty much found out today that the positions on the team that were announced a couple weeks ago were basically filled before the announcements came out. I’m considering filing a complaint because they went outside the normal hiring process.

      1. “Sadly, no sign of him at our meeting.”

        I believe our very own 24/7 places him in Israel.

  9. The Goldwater Institute is calling for the state to start publishing its own school choice catalog:

    Good god, why? What purpose would this serve?

    1. My thoughts exactly.

  10. Sounds liek some good options to me dude.

    http://www.PC-Privacy.tk

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