From the Courier Press, news of the latest success for Republicans in their long war against public sector teacher unions.
Kristy Wentworth of Evansville said she was never dissatisfied with public education, and her three children, who attended schools in the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp., were making good grades.
But when friends told her about Indiana’s new private school voucher program, she was intrigued.
After some discussion, Wentworth enrolled her children this year at Evansville Lutheran School, which is near her home. It didn’t take the single mother long to decide her choice was correct. Her children — who are in grades 7, 6 and 4 — are thriving at Evansville Lutheran. Wentworth noted the school’s small class sizes, and she marveled at the frequent communication she receives from her teachers.
“They come home from school excited, they leave for school excited. They can’t wait to get there,” Wentworth said. “(The school) encouraged them to sign up for Boy Scouts and volleyball, and on the first night they made the kids feel so welcome.”
Wentworth recently lost her job, and she said she couldn’t have afforded a private school without the voucher program, which proponents say helps overall educational achievement and closes achievement gaps along socioeconomic lines.
And these private schools help children to perform better in testing.
Can greater competition among schools help? That’s what state education officials are banking on. While scars from the lengthy spring debate over vouchers heal, they are encouraging local school districts to embrace the new environment.
Local nonpublic schools have courted voucher students. As of Friday, 114 were awarded to students in the EVSC district — the fourth highest number in the state.
Officials with the EVSC, meanwhile, point to recent academic progress, its network of community partnerships aimed at meeting students’ most fundamental needs and classroom innovations.
Delaware Elementary School, which is in the same neighborhood as Evansville Lutheran, has made strides in several areas in a short period of time, said Heather Ottilie, parent of a Delaware third-grader.
Delaware is in its second year as an EVSC “equity school.” Along with two other schools of similar socioeconomic demographics — McGary Middle School and Evans School — Delaware is free to have longer school days and longer school years and has more leeway in curriculum and rules. The three equity schools all showed gains on the spring ISTEP.
Ottilie said Delaware has placed heavy emphasis on independent reading. Other innovations include the use of netbook computers and iPod Touches in classrooms, world language instruction and new learning programs such as LEGO robotics, which emphasize problem-solving skills.
“I love it,” Ottilie said. “Everything is hands-on … the kids aren’t just doing worksheets.”
What is the conservative plan to help the poor? Is it wealth redistribution? Does that even work? Or is there a way to produce better results for the poor through free market capitalism? Those who advocate big government never bother to ask these questions. For those who take the time to study economics, the answer is clear – what works to reduce costs and raise quality is choice and competition.
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