FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Back To School Without Enough Choice
At Present Your Choices Are Governed By Your Income And Your Willingness To Give Things Up For Your Kids
Image Credit: Catchmyparty.com
I’m sincerely convinced that a good parent is one who sacrifices from his or her own wellbeing and leisure to improve their children. If your family makes a better than median living and you are willing to sacrifice until you scrape by at the median, you can send two of your children to school at a lot of different places. Where I live, (Madison County, AL) you can give up about $15 K a year in tuition and fees to send your children to private schools that are solidly more capable than the public school alternatives. In so doing, you also give up the bus service and sacrifice a good 7 hours per school week driving your children around to those to schools and picking them up afterwards. This will add more than 10K miles to your odometer per year which equals about $6,500 more in cost to fuel and maintain your vehicles. My wife doesn’t work, so we save the additional cost for 15 hours per week of day care expenses that other families would have to
Now of course $20K per year is a lot to sacrifice. I was blessed with the willingness and understanding to major in mathematics in college so that I could pay off my GSL debt and make a salary that allowed me to invest north of $20K per year to keep my kids out of the local public schools. Mr. Logic would ask the question “Why on Earth would you pay that when 12 years of compulsory education are already being billed to your local tax bill?” Therein lays a tale of woe that I can best relate through two anecdotes regarding what friends of mine have experienced educating their children in Northern Alabama.
So I go see a guy who’s married to one of my wife’s BFFs. He and I are out in his back yard doing something original like drinking. He tells me his oldest boy is having it tough these days. I ask him why. He’s a temporary geographical bachelor these days. His wife had gotten a much higher paying job in Atlanta, and she moved there with the kids. His oldest had been an Honor Roll student in Huntsville Public Schools. In one of the better public schools in Atlanta, he was 1 month behind and trying hard not to flunk. Another family my wife and I know well recently decamped for South Korea. They sent their daughter over there to study in the summer like a lot of people from Korea do with their kids. She was so far behind what children her age get taught in Korea that her parents felt they had to go home so that their child wouldn’t grow up ignorant. These two events were both a surprise and a revelation.
I’ve known three different people who teach at the public schools in and around where I live. One woman retired after 25 years and works on Redstone Arsenal as an OR Analyst. Another coached my child’s Little League Baseball Team when she wasn’t teaching High School math and supervising the school’s Junior Robotics Team. A third is active in local government and probably has an eye on elected office. I don’t know her beliefs on big issues; but if she’s Conservative, I want her on that wall. So this leaves me flabbergasted. I know three very capable and intelligent women who are teaching in local public schools. If all three of these people can conquer a nice, healthy chunk of their corner of the world, how do the Honor Roll kids they teach end up 1 month behind the better public schools in Atlanta and wearing the Honorable Sheila Jackson-Lee Dunce Cap in comparison to school children in Seoul, Korea?
Conservative Smart-Guy, Dr. Thomas Sowell enlightens us more. These three teachers I know and admire mean well, work hard and present a positive example with their own lives in unique and interesting ways. They also are overwhelmed by a corrupt and dysfunctional Leviathan. Modern Public education is a monopoly that no longer specifically works on behalf on its customers.
This is why a voucher-driven school choice program is so important. Not everyone can or is willing to major in mathematics and then get lucky enough to land my job. There is no $20K in extra-income or 7 extra hours per week to commute back and forth to better schools. Not everyone has South Korean citizenship handy in order to prevent their kids from falling behind. Not all Americans are going to strike it rich and hit the boffo new job somewhere. People who are not fortunate, and can’t just slice off 33% of their cash balance after taxes, 401Ks and 529-Cs, are getting stuck in schools with priorities that supersede educating their children. This is wrong and means that children will not be educated in an effective manner across all public schools until something powerful smashes their monopoly and makes them stop.
This is why, on the 4th day of August, the 1st day of a new school year in Madison County, AL I strongly advise and admonish you to support school choice initiatives for those amongst you who don’t have somewhere close to $25K per year to throw down in return for decent Primary Education. It is not just good enough to care for my own offspring. Everyone else’s kids will help determine America’s future as well. Our Education-Government Complex is a corrupt and inbred industry that no longer always remembers to cater to its captive customer base. Americans should not have to pay large fractions of their disposable incomes every school year to have the choice of educating their children well.