Although this story appears to be a Missouri specific example of just what school choice should be about, it is one of many stories nationwide of parents attempting to escape failing schools by any means necessary. In 2007, Jane Turner and three other St. Louis parents requested that the Clayton schools bill the St. Louis City School District for tuition under the Missouri Constitution. Specifically the Missouri State Constitution states that all children are entitled to a free public education, and that if a district becomes unaccredited, the failing district must pay tuition to any nieghboring district that the student chooses. The receiving district cannot turn them away for any reason, according to a recent court ruling on this issue by the Missouri Supreme Court.
After the 2011 Legislative Session failed to yield a “Turner Fix”, the judges sent the case back to the lower courts for trial, which is scheduled for Sept. 26. Meanwhile, three residents of the Clayton School District have joined the lawsuit, arguing that their district should not have to accept students from St. Louis because the state does not provide funding to pay for the transfer.”
This solution from the Supreme Court of Missouri makes absolutely no sense. Neighborhood schools with high parental involvement and engaged teachers create good schools. To burden already cash strapped county districts with providing classroom space and adequate teaching staff for students that may or may not return year after year is lunacy. There are so many variables involved. Will the funding follow? Will the students be successful in a new environment where they begin the day after an hour long commute? What about the community aspect? Children bond over the after school activities and playdates. How can a child participate in his new community if he is shuttled off by bus for an hour long ride home to his neighborhood as soon as the bell rings? How will the county districts fund the new buildings that will be required in order to maintain DESE mandated class size requirements? These are just a few of the problems that this “solution” presents the districts involved.
Just what have they been doing anyway???
‘They’ being the Republican controlled legislature in Jefferson City. While I was busy attending every town hall, and calling every legislator this side of the Rockies, what was going on with this ruling? Nothing. The Turner Fix never made it out of the Education Committee in the Missouri state senate. This was due in no small part to the lobbyists that were out in full force, strong-arming legislators into cowtowing to the demands of those that had the money to hire them. The ‘reformers’ want to abolish school districts and have everyone riding the bus for hours across town to achieve complete diversity and school choice. The teachers union wants the status quo. “Keep those kids in the city! The teacher’s in the city have a right to their jobs! Who cares if they are educating kids!” And some of the hold up was due to simple greed. “We will vote for your Turner Fix if you vote for our tax credit boondoggle called Aerotropolis, the China Hub!”
“Weeks after Indiana began the nation’s broadest school voucher program, thousands of students have transferred from public to private schools, causing a spike in enrollment at some Catholic institutions that were only recently on the brink of closing for lack of pupils.
It’s a scenario public school advocates have long feared: Students fleeing local districts in large numbers, taking with them vital tax dollars that often end up at parochial schools. Opponents say the practice violates the separation of church and state. In at least one district, public school principals have been pleading with parents not to move their children.”
“Let’s not forget that the voucher program returns money to parents whose children aren’t costing the state anything for their education. If it’s like most voucher programs, it doesn’t even return the full tax bite for each family, which means those families are funding both systems. By putting their children into private schools, these parents are almost certainly spending more money on education than those in the public system.
Note, though, that it’s not an atheist activist group threatening to file suit, or some non-profit alleging incompetence in the delivery of education. It’s the teachers union that wants to file suit. Why? Because as students leave, public-school teacher positions will get eliminated. Of course, an influx of students into private schools will mean more jobs for teachers in the private market, but the union doesn’t control the employers in that sector like they do in the public-school system. Teachers have to demonstrate competence and effectiveness longer than just achieving tenure.“