Controversy struck the American school systems over the proposed bill, the Choice In Education Act of 2017, as it includes stipulations that are not seen as completely beneficial to the general public.
The House Bill actively and primarily puts in place the school voucher programs implemented by Betsy DeVos, the US Secretary of Education. Voucher programs in itself have been opposed as they are essentially block grants, backed by state funds, that parents are able to use towards a school of their choice for their student. Those who most qualify for the grants include, but are not limited to, low-income students, children with disabilities and gifts, or families who are zoned to schools that are failing to reach the state’s target scores.
Speaking on behalf of Keller ISD, Amanda Bigbee, the district’s general counsel, states the position KISD holds.
“Keller ISD has verbalized its opposition to all legislation that creates any [type] of voucher program (including educational savings accounts)… Especially in Texas, vouchers take money from a public school system that is already underfunded and struggling financially,” said Bigbee.
Furthermore, in an email, Bigbee details the lack of trust found in the deposition of the funds into the program.
“Some of the most recent research I’ve seen on vouchers indicate that neither public nor private students benefit from vouchers. At least for the bills I’ve seen in Texas, private schools who would benefit from voucher funds are not held to any accountability standards the way public schools are. There is not a mechanism for determining if the money spent in a private school is actually getting acceptable, much less competitive results,” revealed Bigbee.
Unlike the bill’s intentions, student media teacher, Greg Janda, perceived it as detrimental. Janda expresses concern towards the authorization of the block grants.
“Public school works best when everybody puts in. I am personally against anything that takes money away from schools, whether it be tax decreases, student vouchers, or anything that would harm public schools being well funded and well supported. The reason public school works is because it educates the masses. And if the ‘haves’ pull out money, and the ‘have nots” have no support, then as a whole society, we lose overall,” Janda commented.
Currently, the Healthy and Hunger Free Kids Act, set in place by Michelle Obama, is the nutritional program followed by the districts. The Choice In Education Act will further repeal this food standard of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) in school cafeterias. This is done with the intent of eliminating the limitations of caloric intake of students buying lunches in the lines.
In light of this change, Janda voices his disagreement of the complete abolishment of the standing act.
“I think it’s better to work within the system that’s there rather than to create a new system that could damage more people,” said Janda.
All decisions under the umbrella of education are made at either a federal, state or district degree. As discussion become more specific to certain issues, conversation is moved down to more communal grades.
“I think that most of the decisions that are made in regard to schools should be very localized, and more at the district level than even the state or federal level. But, I realize and respect that sometimes decisions that are made for the good of everybody need to be made at the state or federal level,” said Janda.
Alongside many educators, Janda continues to voice his opinion of the bills introduced pertaining to the educational system.
“I feel like most of the criticism from people that want to select where their money and student go to is from them being short sided of the ultimate goals of public education and how their student can make the most of it,” said Janda. “I believe in public education, that’s why I’m a public education teacher and not a private education teacher. ”
For more information, here is the link to the research conducted by Stanford referenced above. http://news.stanford.edu/2017/02/28/vouchers-not-improve-student-achievement-stanford-researcher-finds/