School Choice

Kids Don't *Have* To Be Bored Stiff in School: Why Choice Is Winning Hearts & Minds [Reason Podcast]

Reason's Lisa Snell tells Nick Gillespie about Education Savings Accounts, the next big push in school reform.

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School choice is flourishing in America, with millions of kids now using vouchers to attend private schools, going to publicly funded charter schools, benefiting from open-enrollment policies, being schooled at home, and more. President Donald Trump is full-throated in his support of choice, recognizing National School Choice Week in a proclamation:

Because the education of our young people is so important, the parents of every student in America should have a right to a meaningful choice about where their child goes to school.

By expanding school choice and providing more educational opportunities for every American family, we can help make sure that every child has an equal shot at achieving the American Dream. More choices for our students will make our schools better for everybody.

Trump's pick for Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, is controversial precisely because she is an activist for charters and other forms of school choice.

What are the forces that are driving the acceptance of choice programs, does choice increase student performance, and are traditional public schools being left behind? These are some of the questions I put to Lisa Snell, the director of education research at Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes this website. Snell is one of the architects of the reform that's known as the "weighted student formula," in which education dollars follow a particular student to whatever school he or she attends (extra dollars are added for students with learning problems and other issues). Not only does the weighted student formula give more control and options to students, it also allows for an end-run around conventional school districts, which often soak up huge amounts of per-pupil funding before it reaches the classrom—or a teacher's paycheck.

In this lively conversation, Snell explains the growing appeal of Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), which allow parents to spend money on a wide variety of educational services and hyper-personalize their children's education.

For a comprehensive list of school choice trends compiled by the sponsors of National School Choice Week, go here.

Produced by Ian Keyser.

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National School Choice Week runs from through January 28. Over 21,000 events involving almost 17,000 schools from all 50 states will take place over the coming days. Go here to get more information about events and data about how increasing school choice—charters, vouchers, educational savings accounts, and more—is one of the best ways to improve education for all Americans.

As a proud media sponsor of National School Choice Week, Reason will be publishing daily articles, podcasts, videos, interviews, and other coverage exploring the ways in which education is being radically altered and made better by letting more people have more choices when it comes to learning. For a constantly updated list of stories, go to Reason's archive page on "school choice."

NEXT: Are Education Savings Accounts the Future of School Choice? What We Saw at the Texas School Choice Rally in Austin

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  1. Fuck Donald Trump.

    1. Not a big DeVos fan, I take it…

      1. I’m just trying to overcompensate for the commentariat and bring the comment section to ideological equilibrium. Someone has to do it.

        1. The transperson of the lake, xer arm clad in the purest shimmering anti-semitism, held aloft Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals from the bosom of the lake, declaring that you, Konima, were xer ordained messenger.

          1. Listen some strange womyn lying around in Universities distributing books is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate of the masses, not some farcical University ceremony.

            1. +1 moistened bint

              1. I’m sorry, that should be “tenured bint.”

        2. ideological equilibrium

          Which apparently means, to counter ideas with a total lack thereof.

          1. You know not my heart.

            1. Maybe your heart can start making some posts, then.

                    1. Son, if this is your idea of bringing equilibrium, I can assure you we already have plenty of whatever it is you’re trying to bring.

                1. Fascist.

                  Nope, kbolino not on the list helpfully provided by a far more senior troll than you.

                  1. Nope, kbolino not on the list helpfully provided by a far more senior troll than you.

                    Much to my disappointment.

                  2. He could be one of the secret-15 that are not on the official list.

                    1. Or one of the unnamed “many detractors.” That has such a nice ring, like “unindicted co-conspirator.” Sigh. The good old days.

                    2. One of the final five fascists?

                    3. One of the final five fascists?

                      Dammit, beat me to it

                  3. He’ll make a better list. With blackjack. And hookers!

                2. Hey now Konima, as part of the Approved Hihn List of Reason Fascists, I will not allow you to use our branding without explicit permission from at least one of the top 5 fascists here.

                  1. As number 6 on the list, i sort of feel left out, but i’m also relieved to’ve dodged the responsibility.

                    1. And I, as #9, am relieved as well.

                    2. I assume that I have my own, more important list.

                    3. ^social signalers…I bet you all have a class ring on.
                      *jealous hmmmphf

                    4. You’re just jealous of my mad fascist swagger bacon.

                      *Flips up collar of Hugo Boss uniform*

                    5. *Swoons

                    6. As number 6 on the list, i sort of feel left out, but i’m also relieved to’ve dodged the responsibility.

                      +1 salutatorian

                    7. So I’m thinking “fascist”= mean to Mr Hihn?

                      I missed the end of that whole scene the other day, so I’m just guessing.

                    8. Pretty much. That and Hihn is a total nutcase. He makes the rest of us look sane.

                  2. Tonio votes: Nyet!

        3. If you overcompensate, you’re going to throw it out of equilibrium. Just in the opposite direction.

          1. It’s possible. In that case, I will simply reverse my positions to the extent that equilibrium is reached once more.

            1. I will simply reverse my positions

              Of course you will, Troll, of course you will. Now begone!

            2. You’ve made yourself into an Anakin Skywalker trope. I hope you’re happy with the direction your life is going.

              /nttawwt

              1. /nttawwt

                Some number of children disagree (aside, fucking Clone Wars had couple episodes with a likable cast of kids who I can only assume get the Anakin in the end).

                1. His kids are going to be highly bangable, though. Be fair, whether this was a benefit in the end is still in question.

                2. aside, fucking Clone Wars had couple episodes with a likable cast of kids who I can only assume get the Anakin in the end

                  Screw the kids, what about fucking Rex? Imagine his manly heart breaking when he finds out the commander he idolized is now a murdering psychopath.

                  1. Rex is a clone trooper, yes? He’ll be glad that his commander was the only Jedi to resist the great treason and fight for the Republic.

        4. Who is going to bring the journal itself to ideological equilibrium?

          1. My personal journal?

            1. No, I’m talking about Reason.

              1. This is a website, Mike.

  2. This is a truly great idea. Massive political hurdles, though.

    What happens to a failing school that nobody attends? Will they just tear the building down and can the whole faculty/staff? Not likely.

    It would probably be best to ease into something like this. E.g. giving high-achieving kids’ families this option first as an incentive. Or if you’re in a district with especially poor schools, the parents get to take this route instead.

    1. Where I live they’ve turned a couple of early-twentieth century public school buildings into condos. They look really nice and have ample private parking.

      1. They’re gonna do that with an old school building in my neighborhood, if anyone ever submits a bid on asbestos removal.

        1. …if anyone ever submits a bid on asbestos removal.

          [insert standard anti-lawyer rant – excepting Pro Lib, RC Dean, John, and most of the other lawyers who hang out here]

          1. Wait, John is a lawyer?

        2. So is the city going to pay for that? If the building was in-use when the asbestos regs kicked-in then the city should have fixed that.

          1. You don’t have to fix it until you disturb it. I would imagine that you have to disclose its presence to the buyer, though.

            1. Seems to me that if you have asbestos in your building, the best thing to do is just seal it up better. Removing it is where it gets dangerous.

              1. That’s the most common approach. Just put a new material over it and “contain” it, as long as it is “non-friable,” i.e. non-dust-generating. Failing to remove and properly dispose of friable asbestos after it’s been uncovered is highly illegal.

    2. Will they just tear the building down and can the whole faculty/staff?

      No – you sell the facility to another operator, who may or may not keep faculty and staff depending on the individual quality of each. Like any business.

      1. We have one charter school in our city. It operates in a former public school building that the charter board had to pry (as in by lawsuit) out of the hands of the city school system which had closed the school some years prior. Once the charter got the school, the city immediately declared it unfit because it didn’t meet ADA standards. Standards that were in effect when the building was used as a public school.

        That’s just one example of the shenanigans that the public education establishment will pull to thwart charters.

        1. That’s exactly the kind of thing I was worried about. And a charter school isn’t really even a private entity/business.

          1. I believe the charter is incorporated as a non-profit corporation. Not sure if they own the building outright or have a “permanent” (ie, 100-year) lease. Also, their major source of funding is the tuition fees paid to them by the city for any Richmond students who attend. But they are far more private, independent and accountable than a public school.

            Also, given that the city school system is looking for any excuse to shut them down they are highly motivated to do a good job.

        2. They really are quite shameless – my district has a half dozen sites that are shuttered and rotting, but they refuse to unload them because they have to give first opportunity to charters.

        3. I’m continually frustrated that people do not conclude that government is evil and corrupt after seeing the shenanigans that government pulls whenever the people try to claw back any power. We’ve seen this with MJ as well. The mental cost of maintaining self-delusion must be greater than the mental cost of changing their belief system.

          1. I’ve read that very, very few people change their belief systems after reaching the age of 30. It’s a hard thing to do at any age.

            I remember my conversion to libertarianism took a while, and I had to read a ton of books before I was convinced.

            1. Hey, i slid all the way down the slippery slope of libertarianism into the cool waters of Lake Ancap after the age of 30. It CAN happen.

  3. Nick doesn’t understand alt-text

    1. Great picture though.

    2. Maybe he is slow playing us.

  4. President Donald Trump is full-throated in his support of choice, recognizing National School Choice Week in a proclamation:

    School choice is tremendous. Great stuff. Love it. I’ve bought many schools. Believe me. I buy schools all the time. I know. School choice is beautiful. Absolutely fabulous.

    1. You know who else was Absolutely Fabulous?

      1. French & Saunders?

        1. Oh, so very close, sweety darling.

          1. I have a sudden urge to do a line of coke at my desk.

        1. Oh, very clever.

      2. Milo? Or his alter-ego Robby Soave?

    2. You know who else was full-throated?

  5. RE: Kids Don’t *Have* To Be Bored Stiff in School: Why Choice Is Winning Hearts & Minds

    No, no, no!
    School choice is reserved rightly for the ruling elitist filth who enslave us. The unenlightened masses must continue to go to government monopoly public schools if they are to stay illiterate, or at best, indoctrinated into socialist ways. The children of the little people and of the politically unconnected are not have an education beyond a sixth grade level if the Glorious Peoples Revolution is to continue. Only through ignorance and near-illiteracy can the masses be manipulated to further advance our beloved socialist slave state. School choice only opens the doors of questioning, doubt and resistance to those who are valiantly leading down the shining path of oppression, terror and mass murder. Such counter-revolutionary ideas and ideals, such as school choice, must be smashed immediately and have all those who question the wisdom of our ruling elitist turds be placed into the local gulags for further re-education via incarceration, torture and death to show the world what a tolerant, humane and merciful socialist slave state we all enjoy today.

    1. Isn’t that the truth. The opposition to DeVos is led largely by those who never have to eat their own dog food. Instead, they talk about more investment and the like, as if banging your head against the wall harder is the answer. It never dawns on them that charters and vouchers and home-schooling and all the rest would not even be topics if the public system was perceived to be succeeding.

      1. But they deny that it is failing. The problems of public schools are never the fault of the government; it is always because they aren’t funded enough. They absolutely cannot stand the thought of someone providing better, safer education than government for a lower (or at least equal) price.

  6. Kids Don’t *Have* To Be Bored Stiff in School

    No, they often go through their school days terrified of violent thugs, and also fellow students.

    1. And the stiffness isn’t always from boredom…

      1. +1 Hot for Teacher

        1. If it’s Podesta, then it’s not for the teachers…

  7. Oh, I was definitely stiff in school.

    1. We’re not talking ’bout hot for teacher here…

  8. OT:

    No surprise: The Repubs , after six fucking years, are completely bamboozled by repealing (and replacing) OCare.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/…..15427c2126

    What a bunch of clowns.

    1. Republican lawmakers aired sharp concerns about their party’s quick push to repeal the Affordable Care Act

      “Maybe we could wait… I dunno, like another two years? Just spitballing here. Some multiple of two.”

      “We’d better be sure that we’re prepared to live with the market we’ve created” with repeal, said Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.). “That’s going to be called Trumpcare. Republicans will own that lock, stock and barrel, and we’ll be judged in the election less than two years away.” And there it is.

      1. Oh, they definitely want to make them own that. And they will probably succeed unless the other they are very, very careful.

      2. “We’d better be sure that we’re prepared to live with the market we’ve created” with repeal, said Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.). “That’s going to be called Trumpcare. Republicans will own that lock, stock and barrel, and we’ll be judged in the election less than two years away.”

        Huh. You know…call me crazy…but sometimes I get the sense that maybe these politicians are thinking more about getting re-elected and retaining power than they are about how best to serve the people who elected them. Nah, couldn’t be…

    2. while i don’t dispute they probably were flat-footed

      1) its the WaPo. they could actually be gleefully going through the dozens of meritorious proposals trying to figure which has the greatest political benefit, and they would be characterized as “terrified, incompetent, etc” regardless.

      2) very few people expected trump to win. frankly, i was saying a few weeks ago they would likely punt a few months so they could workshop all the plans. I think even Trump suggested as much – ‘don’t rush it’.

      and i honestly don’t think its a simple task at all. The GOP indeed may be a bunch of feckless clowns, but this isn’t really the best case-study in it.

      1. Counterpoint – they are seriously debating defunding Planned Parenthood with the repeal.

        1. they don’t call them the Stupid Party for nothing

        2. If each working women in the US gave up half a cup of Starbucks a year they could fund planned parenthood privately and not have to go through this political bullshit. But I know, the protesting is more important than the results. The government must do everything not the citizen. $3.40 a year. And if they talk some men into chipping in they can expand.

    3. How true.
      The republicans are nothing more than the “me too” party.
      They want to keep Obozocare somehow but are unable to figure out how to keep government supplied healthcare without making them look like the socialist hypocrites they truly are.

      1. They want to keep Obozocare somehow but are unable to figure out how to keep government supplied healthcare without making them look like the socialist hypocrites they truly are.

        ^ This.

        I can’t help but get the same feeling I did with Democrats’ opposition to the Iraq invasion. There was this semi-clueless, deer-in-the-headlights sense of “voters are agitated about something the Republicans are doing. We should get in on that. Do you get what they’re on about?”

    4. Paul had a decent plan.

  9. Another reason progs don’t like her is because they say she believes in Creationism.

    Any truth to this?

    1. no idea, but they would say that about anyone who was ostensibly religious.

      the Devos tribe are pretty well-known god-botherers, but when i looked her up back in December, the impression i got was that she was far from that.

    2. Even IFLScience in a somewhat incoherent, rambling piece of shit of an article won’t straight up say that.

      She’s apparently from a church that preaches it though, for what that’s worth.

      1. The people who carnally love science do “news?”

    3. Another reason progs don’t like her is because they say she believes in Creationism.

      She probably does in some form, if not the literal God-spoke-six-thousand-years-ago version. It has never been an issue she’s taken up, however. I.e., as involved as she’s been in education reform causes over the years, pushing for teaching creationism in schools or against teaching evolution in schools has never been an issue she’s addressed one way or another.

      She’s very in favor of having vouchers that would be usable at Christian schools that at least teach intelligent design if not outright “fundamentalist” creationism. That’s the main thing Progressives object to – that government money would be going to support religious institutions.

      1. That’s the main thing Progressives object to – that government money would be going to support religious institutions.

        I’m fairly sure you can extend that to any non-govt institution, to include charters which, ironically, are a form of public school. They hate home-schooling, too.

      2. And that is a very real concern. As is often pointed out here, though in another context – money is fungible. So to be consistent if we can’t fund PP because some of that fungible money might enable abortions, we can’t fund religious schools because some of that money might enable religion.

        Having said that I’m willing to bend principle a little to support incrementalism (ie, charters). After all, the rest of you graciously accepted the incremental compromise about gay marriage, right?

        1. to be consistent if we can’t fund PP because some of that fungible money might enable abortions, we can’t fund religious schools because some of that money might enable religion.

          True enough. It really comes down to how the program is structured. Ideally, school funding would work like an HSA, with charitable schools picking up the slack that people can’t fund themselves.

          I would even go so far as to suggest that a school voucher that the parent chooses what to do with is not strictly analogous to government choosing PP specifically to receive direct taxpayer funding. It’s more like giving someone a healthcare voucher that they then choose to go spend at PP.

          But barring those things, I am absolutely on board with the incrementalist approach, since it’s clearly the only thing in the school-choice area that’s making any progress right now.

        2. We can’t fund abortions because Congress has chosen not to fund abortions when giving money away. The left’s view is that it’s an establishment violation, which is bullshit, and also gives them an excuse to override any amount of democratic pushback in favor of more liberal deployment of vouchers.

          I mean, if the government required everyone to sit around watch government propaganda every Sunday morning unless they paid thousands of dollars to be released from that obligation, that would be a first amendment violation, but not in the way they imagine.

      3. government money

        by which we mean,

        people’s taxes, taken from them with the bullshit lie that it would be used for the betterment of their children

        1. Or in the case of many of us, for the betterment of other people’s children.

          1. They are all of our children.

            1. It takes a village to rob me blind for the sake of all your goddamned spouses and children.

        2. Yes, but “government money” is faster to type.

      4. That’s the main thing Progressives object to – that government money would be going to support religious institutions.

        I object to government money going to support scientific institutions too. I think that’s far more damaging.

        1. DENIER!

    4. Ever notice Rufus how the people up here who freak out about ‘keeping God out of government’ in the United States, or in Canada (Harper’s weirdo Prairie religion, etc.) seem to give zero shits about the United Church’s stranglehold on the NDP and parts of the Liberals?

      1. Yes, I have.

      2. I always notice Rufus.

        1. Down boy.

          Down.

        2. This is why you’re on The List Tonio, the Punctuation Nazi.

          1. Sigh. Commas matter.

            “Let’s eat, Grandma.” vs “Let’s eat Grandma.”

      3. The fuck does United Church have to do with God?

        Yes, Prime Minister had a whole episode on pretty much that.

        1. What’s United Church? Is that the Canadian branch of the Church of England?

          1. The United Church of Canada, a Reform church based off of 4 different denominations merging in the 1920s.

            In the modern context it’s basically a ‘liberal’ church; they approve of gay marriage, priesthood is not sex based, etc. It’s membership also tends to be massively statist and have religious justifications for it, I’ve been there and heard sermons about expanding the welfare state cause Jesus. It’s basically the center of Christian socialist thought in Canada, and they’re very influential on the major left wing party in the country, the NDP. A lot of their leadership is United Church, and some of the more statist Liberals (like Premier Wynne) just happen to be followers as well. Whenever the influence of religion in government is discussed in this country, somehow they’re never mentioned.

            1. Ah. The Yes, Prime Minister reference had me thinking it was an official state church.

              1. Was in hurry, so couldn’t give the whole spin, but the description of Church of England in the episode (“The Queen is an inseparable part of the Church.” “I see. What about God?” “He’s what we call an optional extra.”) sums up the progressive Churches in Canada. It’s also why I prefer Eddie-type believers, who know Church is 1700+ years of history, philosophy, tradition and yes, swinery, not you opening a random passage in the Bible then going “wait, I gotcha!”. Even though I’m an atheist.

      4. Don’t you publicly fund parochial schools up there already? I seem to recall seeing some of that in Ontario at least.

        1. Catholic schools in Ontario, as part of British North America Acts (basically foundational document of Canada, Confederation notwithstanding).

    5. Isn’t anyone who believes in God (well, the god of Abraham, anyway) a creationist of some stripe? It would also probably describe the vast majority of Americans, so I’m not sure it’s wise for the Progressives to beat that drum too loudly.

      Now, if she’s a “Young Earth” Creationist who believes the Earth is 6,000 years old, I can see that being a concern.

      1. I suppose so. “Intelligent design” can mean that God designed all life forms personally and deliberately. Or it could mean that he just set the universe in motion with a set of rules that would eventually lead to intelligent life. Neither of those things are scientific propositions in any way. But the latter at least doesn’t contradict any science that is practically useful, even if it is kind of a cop out.

      2. Yes, and yes.

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