OPINION: Former House Speaker Calls for Expanded Educational Options

From Delaware Online:
Twenty-five years ago I sponsored House Bill 85, which mandated the reporting of school crimes. Since that time, the climate in schools has severely worsened, with Sunday’s article on bullying simply acknowledging how dangerous our schools have become. In fact, what happens in schools throughout Delaware is terrorism. That’s a strong word, some will say, but when a girl runs into a classroom attacking another girl with the teacher in the classroom, it is indeed terrorism, for people are now concerned about their safety. With all due respect to the theory that their brains aren’t fully developed, I feel that common sense dictates that the violence we see today in school’s go light years past what used to be viewed as just “kid stuff.”
As a result, Delaware parents and grandparents deserve a new opportunity with which to have their child educated in an environment where safety and good manners are the norm, so that teachers can do their critically important job of preparing a new generation of leaders. The idea is simple: tuition tax credits are accumulated, and then the funds are allocated to parents for the school they choose. A 501(c)(3) is formed to distribute the funds to the school for the student. This idea is very successful in Arizona.
Now those in favor of what we currently have will cry that such an idea is a voucher system, or that public schools have a commitment to all of the children. The problem is neither statement is true, for giving parents a way to do what they feel is best for their child is empowerment for all parents, and with Delaware having nearly a 25 percent enrollment rate in non-public schools, this clearly indicates that many parents want another option. Furthermore, the current system actually discriminates against those parents who pay public school taxes and tuition. I need to reiterate this: the Delaware Scholarship Opportunity is given to all parents, including those with children who have special needs.
Other arguments against giving parents a choice they deserve is that those on the socioeconomic margin won’t avail their child of this proposal. I find it hard to believe that any parent, no matter how difficult things may be, won’t explore this free opportunity to explore a new option. The argument will also be that only the “bad” kids will be left, when in fact many of the troubled children could flourish in a school where bathrooms can remain open throughout the day versus the lockdown that occurs in many schools.
When I introduced H.B. 85, the educational status quo did a Greek chorus of it being “impractical,” as I am sure this too will be derided as “unworkable.”For the naysayers and critics, ask yourself this: How long would you pay a large sum of money for a product that is increasingly unsafe? Furthermore, look at the large number of elected officials and even teachers whose children attend a private school and then ask yourself: why?
Read more here: http://www.delawareonline.com/article/20110517/OPINION07/105170338/Give-parents-choice-send-children-safe-schools


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