Three Reasons You Should Join ‘National School Choice Week’

America’s public education system is a lot like the Chicago Cubs: both have become so accustomed to failure that it has become an accepted way-of-life. A nation that tolerates bad public schools is a nation with a bleak future. That is why January 23 -29, school choice advocates are raising awareness with “National School Choice Week.” Considering the teacher union’s hand-picked tool Tom Torlakson, runs California’s Schools, take a minute to read Kyle Olson’s three reasons you should join the effort.

national school choice week, teacher union, tom torlakson, CTA

Before you decide to sit out “National School Choice Week,” here are three reasons why every American should care about this issue.

Reason #1: Most education “reform” just throws good money after bad
Americans have been trying to fix our public education system since the 1960s. It was even part of President Johnson’s “Great Society” agenda. For nearly 50 years, Americans have attempted to “reform” education simply by throwing more and more money at the problem and hoping that it goes away.

What has 50 years of “investment” gotten U.S. taxpayers? Not much.

Consider this: From 1980 to 2007, the U.S. increased K-12 education spending by a whopping 571 percent (from $101 billion in 1980 to $581 billion in 2007). That works out to over $10,000 per student per year.

All that money must have increased learning, right? Afraid not.

Every year, college-bound high school seniors take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SATs) to assess “academic readiness for college.” From 1980 to 2008, the average SAT score for critical reading stayed absolutely flat (502 to 502), while the average SAT math score climbed from 492 to 515 – an increase of just 4.6 percent.

For several reasons, these results are unacceptable. But the only way schools will ever improve is if families can choose where to send their children to school. Schools would either quickly improve, or they’d go out of business.

Reason #2: School choice can help prevent states from going bankrupt

Fox News analyst Dick Morris sees school choice as a necessary way to counteract the impending bankruptcy many states are facing. By late spring of 2011, Morris believes that states will be desperate to make budget cuts simply to stay afloat.

He says state lawmakers will eagerly listen to school choice advocates who come forward with ways children can receive an equally good education (and usually a much better one) at a fraction of the cost. Allowing students to flee underperforming (and teacher union-controlled) traditional schools in favor of less-expensive and better-performing charter schools, virtual schools and private schools (supported by vouchers/opportunity scholarships) will suddenly make a lot of sense to cash-strapped states.

“I think the education system, in the next 24 months, is going to change completely in the United States – in the direction of school choice,” Morris told “National School Choice Week” reporters.

Reason #3: Every child deserves a quality education to prepare them for life
Just over 2,100 days — that’s the amount of time a child will spend in the classroom during their school career.

Put end-to-end, that’s just shy of six full years.

That’s not much time to learn all the ideas and concepts an 18-year-old needs before moving on to college or joining the workaday world.

As one parent recently put it, “This is our kids’ education – we get one shot at it. You can’t redo it. They get what they get, and it needs to be good.”

But the fact remains that too many of our public schools are in an advanced state of decay. Keeping children trapped inside such schools is doing great harm to their chances of a happy and productive future.

In reality, subpar schools are jeopardizing the future of all Americans. A great nation requires great schools, and right now we don’t have enough of them.

America’s school children need saving. Many of them are hopelessly trapped in failed schools.

We’ve been patient for too long as “experts” tinker around the margins in hopes of gradually fixing our education system. “National School Choice Week” is a time for declaring that we are finished “tinkering.”

America’s children cannot wait any longer.

Just over 2,100 school days –that’s all these children will get. Each day matters.

The clock is ticking.

Will you join us?


  1. L'il Tone says

    While my brother in law was rich enough to move from Concord to lafayette schools, we’ve been able to use extended family member’s address in Orinda so we could get kids from Martinez to better schools. This is what the union dominated legislature has made school choice in California: making parents who exercise choice for their kids criminals.

  2. Wendy Lack says

    @ Lil Tone:
    Yes, that Pepperdine U study was pretty compelling stuff. One can’t help but feel for the families entrapped in the low-performing Compton schools.

  3. Wendy Lack says

    Truth is stranger than fiction.

    Don’t know which is more sad: the fact that some parents will cheat to get their kids into a better school, or that some school district feel compelled to hire PIs to run tape on the cheaters, to bolster their criminal prosecution.

    In any case, it’s clear that today’s government school system ain’t working — not for parents, not for school districts, and certainly not for kids.

    • says

      There must be thousands that do this in Contra Costa (Sneaking kids from Martinez SD into Acalanes, or from MDUSD to anywhere); or if you have the money like several notable families, rent your home in Concord and buy or rent a place in lafayette so junior can go to “good” school system than sell the place to finance college and move back to concord

  4. Wendy Lack says

    I hear you and agree that reforming an entrenched, fossilized monopoly such as government-run schools is a project for the long term (if in fact one believes such reform is even possible, given the enormous political power of today’s teachers unions).

    You are correct that there is no single solution to improving public school performance. School choice certainly doesn’t fix all ills, but it does offer real-life demonstration projects for how schools can run better. And having more case study successes in support of public school alternatives eventually results in greater pressure for change in the public school biz.

    And, importantly, for the families fortunate enough to break free from substandard public schools, alternative choices are a Godsend. Makes a night and day difference in a child’s long-term success in higher education and career.

    Fact: Families don’t have time to wait for he long term Big Fix that may never come in their lifetimes. Kids grow up fast and most parents will do just about anything to give their kids the best education possible.

    (BTW, do you have kids? Somehow I doubt it, or you’d grasp and appreciate this point more readily.)

    Offering families ways to break free from low-performing public schools may not address the root cause of the problems with U.S. education, but it sure makes a world of difference for the kids and families involved.

    So you can dismiss choice if you like. You can regard as an inconsequential and-aid. Fine. But doing so doesn’t change the stark reality for thousands of families who benefit from alternatives to public schools — through private schools, charter schools, homeschooling, etc.

    After all, even simple band-aids, properly used, can save lives.

    Desperate parents don’t have the luxury to dismiss options just because they aren’t the be-all, end-all silver bullet, long-term ultimate solution to improving public education.

    And neither do taxpayers.

  5. RF says

    Nice ad hominem. I expect better from you BGR.

    Look, The education problem in America is a multi-pronged disaster and the last thing I would ever advocate for is throwing more money at it. You want to talk about the negative effects of Teacher Tenure and union control of school boards, I’m interested. You want to talk about how our PC climate is destroying our future with it’s filtration of academia and education, I’m there. If you want to talk about curriculum and teaching policies, Let’s do it. But if your answer for this situation is get your kid the hell out of that school and get them in that awesome charter school or private school, than I’m going to dismiss it. It’s not a solution, it’s a band-aid. This is a series problem for the future of this country.

    • says

      Reform of public education for me is not a matter of efficiency or tax savings ala conservative hot-talk and libertarian approaches, but as THE civil rights issue of the 21st century. Even performing schools are discriminatory.

      A ten-year plan would include:

      1. Repeal of the Blaine Amendment language in the constitutions of the western states which is a violation of the first amendment and seriously bigoted.

      2. Define role for state government to oversee education but not run it. The state cannot prefer one educational system over another. Nor should it select curricula but act as regulator. Give civil sector associations time and authority to reform and create new orgs to serve children and parents instead of unions, politicians, and bureaucrats.

      3. Break the CTA and NEA: make public schools everywhere an Open Shop

      4. Fund children not districts and schools;

      Of course, its complicated. But simply writing off any approach as not serious is debilitating.

  6. says

    “Too Complicated?” Your cheap dismissal of the School Choice Movement looks like the New Civility, I hear the President talking about that must deride opposition or paint it as hate talk.

  7. CN says

    Apparently the problems aren’t being solved by the government education monopoly and there’s no reason to believe they ever will be solved by entrenched bureaucracies and politics. Outside the government education system, entrepreneurs are finding new ways and improvements upon the old ways to educate children (and adults.) While I would prefer that we separate school from state entirely, school choice opens up the system to the benefits of entrepreneurialism.

    And, before you make the argument that children will go without education, I would challenge you to find any historical evidence that prior to government education a lack of academic resources was considered a problem and that the proponents of government education argued that without it, parents would not secure those resources for their children. You won’t find any such evidence. There is no support for such an argument.

    • RF says

      Never planned on making that argument because school choice is as close to happening as me playing in the NBA. It’s a cute little capitalist Utopian idea, but does nothing to really address the problems we face as a nation when it comes to how we educate our children. The system is inherently flawed, for many different reasons.

  8. RF says

    The \school choice\ stuff is cute, homey, and populist, but it brings nothing real to the table. Mr. Kyle Olson may spin a good yarn, but he doesn’t really identify the problems, nor does he offer any real solutions, well, besides having the free will to pick your child’s school. This doesn’t really address the huge problems we face, that will surface even at charter schools and private schools if the people are given free choice of where their child goes to school. It’s a cute lovely band-aid on an ugly broken dam.