I agree with most of Brad's positions, but Marvin may also have a point, too. Teachers' unions are made up of teachers. Those teachers are in the classroom, why have those teachers not pooled their knowledge to improve the results? Instead we get programs designed by Bill Ayres (program overseen by Obama) that spent a lot of money & failed miserably.
I sure hope Mr. Benner still has his job! He stood up counter to establishment thought. He became un-PC and said what his first-hand knowledge of the classroom environment taught him.
mngundog, I do not know what type of system was proposed in MN, nor what the systems were used in DC or Louisiana. We DO know that parents and students in DC and LA very much liked the programs there. We DO know that their academic progress was proven. Why is there such opposition to something that has actually worked to benefit students?
I might also suspect that the change of schools for the students is more influenced by the parents than the kids themselves. So, in school choice those parents who realize the value of education are being rewarded by getting support from the govt, rather than interference in what appears to be good parenting.
Unfortunately, a larger number of students left behind in the poor-performing schools may also include students that have more potential than they will be able to get because there are not enough spaces in the schools they would choose instead of the ones they are in. That could stimulate more parents to demand better performance from those less good schools, and challenge the powers to improve those schools as well?
While some private schools may benefit from the voucher programs, sometimes other public schools can also benefit. Some schools in the public system are better than others. There was one public elementary school in one of our local cities that has its 5th graders scoring highest in the State on state evaluation testing. Other schools in the same district perform a good deal less competently. For a student from one of the poor-performing schools, a move within the same public school district would be a positive move for the student, and simply shift funds within the same school district.
Most of the private schools here are much smaller than their public counterparts, so school choice would limit the # of students that could move into private schools. I'm sure that the better public schools would have to take some of the "choice" students.
Possibly the best thing we can do for the kids who want to learn (and their parents) that are trapped in low-performing (often violent), schools is to give them the opportunity to get a better education. We may not be able to "save" every student in the low-performing schools, but we may be able to give some of them a better educational opportunity.
While not all parents of students in the low-performing schools may care enough to challenge their local public school to improve, maybe there are enough of parents like that to be a catalyst for such improvement of those schools. Maybe the improvements will not immediately be giant steps, but Rome was not built in a day. Poor schools did not get that way "overnight". It was a gradual process. Improving them is likely to be much the same ... small steps over an extended period of time.