Thursday, April 07, 2011

Huge Victory for Freedom, School Choice

"On the day of the NCAA men's basketball final, the Supreme Court handed down a decision that is likely to produce champions for generations to come."

That's Cal Thomas opening to an important column about the Supreme Court's decision in Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn, a ground-breaking victory for educational choice. Check it out.

By a 5-4 vote, the majority upheld an Arizona tax-credit program that, writes David Savage of the L.A. Times, gives taxpayers a "dollar-for-dollar tax credit, up to $500 per person or $1,000 for a couple, for those who donate to organizations that in turn pay tuition for students attending private and parochial schools."

...Proponents of school choice have been waiting for a ruling like this one. The next step should be court approval for school vouchers, which would allow parents complete freedom in choosing their child's school. If money cannot be prevented from going to private schools, students should not be prohibited from attending them simply because they can't afford it. With vouchers, students and their parents -- not government -- would decide which school offers the best education. Competition would improve the public schools or, like businesses that underperform, they would be forced to close.

What followed these subjects in many schools was a decline in the fundamentals. Students who graduated were too often functional illiterates (at least 1 million high school students annually, according to the Acton Institute). They know a lot about sex, but not enough about math, science, history and writing to get a job. The system was failing them.

Teachers Unions focused more on their members, defending underperforming teachers, rather than on children who were being denied their right to a good education, which, for the poor, was their ticket out of poverty.

The school choice movement sprung up and met with fierce resistance from the public school establishment and the politicians who benefited from their political contributions. Politicians who would never have defended the late Alabama Governor George Wallace, who barred the doors to the University of Alabama in 1963 to keep two African-American students from entering, now have no problem effectively standing in the door of failed public schools to keep minority students from leaving.

The Supreme Court's ruling, in its way, could be as significant as Brown vs. Board of Education, which desegregated American public schools...