Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Public school teachers and Democrat politicians send their own kids to private schools

Black commentator Larry Elder writes about it in Investors Business Daily.

Excerpt:

About 11% of all parents — nationwide, rural and urban — send their children to private schools. The numbers are much higher in urban areas. One study found that in Philadelphia a staggering 44% of public school teachers send their own kids to private schools.

In Cincinnati and Chicago, 41% and 39% of public school teachers pay for a private school education for their children. In Rochester, N.Y., it’s 38%, in Baltimore 35%, in San Francisco 34% and in New York-northeastern New Jersey 33%.

In Los Angeles nearly 25% of public school teachers send their kids to private school versus 16% of Angelenos who do so.

The 2004 study by the Fordham Institute said its findings “are apt to be embarrassing for teacher unions, considering those organizations’ political animus toward assisting families to select among schools. But these results do not surprise most practicing teachers to whom we speak.”

“The data have shown the same basic pattern since we first happened upon them two decades ago: Urban public school teachers are more apt to send their own children to private schools than is the general public. One might say this shows how conservative teachers are. They continue doing what they’ve always done. Or it might indicate that they have long been discerning connoisseurs of education …

“The middle class will tolerate a lot — disorder, decay and dismay, an unwholesome environment, petty crime, potholes, chicanery and rudeness. One thing, however, that middle class parents will not tolerate is bad schools for their children. To escape them, they will pay out-of-pocket or vote with their feet. That is what discerning teachers do.”

What about members of Congress? Where do they send their own children? A 2007 Heritage Foundation study found that 37% of representatives and 45% of senators with school-age children sent their own kids to private school.

Of the members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus with school-age children, 38% sent them to private school. Of the members of the Congressional Black Caucus with school-age children, 52% sent them to private school.

The ex-mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa, was asked why he didn’t have his own kids in public school despite his strong advocacy of public education. Villaraigosa, whose wife was a public school teacher, said:

“I’m doing like every parent does. I’m going to put my kids in the best school I can. My kids were in a neighborhood public school until just this year. We’ve decided to put them in a Catholic school. We’ve done that because we want our kids to have the best education they can.

“If I can get that education in a public school, I’ll do it, but I won’t sacrifice (emphasis added) my children any more than I could ask you to do the same.”

When he got elected president, Barack Obama and his wife made a big display of looking into Washington, D.C., public schools for his two daughters to attend. But the Obamas chose Sidwell Friends, the elite private school whose alums include Chelsea Clinton.

Obama’s own mother sent her then-10-year-old to live with her parents — so he could attend Punahou Academy, the most exclusive prep school in Honolulu. In fact, from Punahou to Occidental (a private college in Los Angeles) to Columbia (where he completed college) to Harvard Law, Obama is a product of private education.

So how does this square with Obama’s opposition to the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program that offered a voucher for the children of participating parents? It doesn’t.

The best way to help all children – especially poor and minority children – get ahead in life is by giving their parent(s) vouchers and letting them choose public or private schools. But Democrats can’t do that – they want their supporters in the teacher unions to have a captive audience. That way, come election time, the Democrats can count on an army of big-government supporters. It’s very important to understand that Democrats don’t want what’s best for children. They don’t want them to have a choice. They don’t want them to have a quality education. They want to bribe public school teachers to help them get elected.

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Governor Bobby Jindal’s fight to give poor, minority children quality education

Here’s an update on the Democrat war on vouchers in Louisiana, posted by governor Bobby Jindal in the left-leaning Washington Post. In it, he explains how is trying to reform education in his home state of Louisiana, and how the federal government is trying to stop him for doing that.

Excerpt:

We all know the harsh cycle of poverty that exists in the United States and that a disproportionate share of those in poverty are minorities. Studies of health-care outcomes, incarceration levels and economic opportunity all show that education is key to improving quality of life.

Millions of single parents in this country work two jobs to make ends meet, hoping that their children won’t have the same struggles. Hope is their only option because they live in neighborhoods with chronically failing public schools and lack the means to move to better school districts or to send their children to private schools.

Obama and Holder think this should continue to be the reality. In Louisiana, we think the opposite is true. We believe every child deserves the opportunity to get a great education.

That’s why we started a school choice program in 2008 in New Orleans and expanded it statewide in 2012. Low-income families with children in schools graded C, D or F by the state are eligible to apply for a scholarship and send their children to schools of their choice.

The program works. From 2011 to 2013, students who had been trapped in failing schools and now attend scholarship schools showed improvement on literacy and math tests. The share of students performing at grade level rose 7 percent, state data show, even though in 2013, 60 percent of students taking the test had been in their new schools for only eight months. More than 90 percent of parents of students participating in the program reported satisfaction with their children’s schools.

This opportunity is perhaps these children’s best chance to escape the cycle of poverty. No one in their right mind could argue that the Justice Department’s efforts to block the scholarship program will help these kids. This can only be an attempt to curry favor with the government unions that provide financial largess and political power.

President Obama should do the right thing and order the Justice Department to drop the lawsuit. Not because I am asking, but because the parents and children in the scholarship program deserve an opportunity. For generations, the government has forced these families to hope for the best from failing schools. Shame on all of us for standing by and watching generations of children stay in failing schools that may have led them to lives of poverty.

We in Louisiana are rejecting the status quo because we believe every child should have the opportunity to succeed. A scholarship program is not a silver bullet for student success. Maybe a student will perform well in a traditional public school, or a charter school, or a virtual school, but the point is that parents should be able to decide, not bureaucrats in Baton Rouge or Washington.

If the president and the attorney general believe their path is right, I invite them to come to Louisiana and look these parents and children in the eyes and explain why they believe every child shouldn’t have a fair shake.

If the administration does not drop this lawsuit, we will fight every step of the way until the children prevail. Giving every child — no matter race or income — the opportunity to get a great education is a moral imperative.

You might remember that the Obama administration previously went after the D.C. voucher program, which was also for helping poor, minority students.  Why are the Democrats doing this? The answer is simple. Come election time, the Democrats rely heavily on the fundraising and activism of the teacher unions. The teacher unions have more money if they have more children trapped in their failing public schools. Therefore, Obama has every incentive to make sure that no child is allowed to leave a failing school. He needs the help of the teacher unions at election time more than he needs to help children who cannot even vote. That’s what is really going on here. Bobby Jindal would love to have the support of teacher unions, but given the choice between helping the unions and helping the children, he’s choosing the children.

The main point here is that the politicians who talk the most about spending more money on education may not be thinking about what is best for children at all. They might be thinking about paying their union supporters more, so that they will do more at election time. An alternative to just giving more money to the unions would be Jindal’s plan of giving money directly to parents and letting parents choose. Parents might not be as politically connected as teacher unions, but if your goal is to help children get an education, then maybe unions and elections don’t matter as much.

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New study: private religious schools outperform public schools and public charter schools

Reported by The Public Discourse.

Excerpt:

I recently conducted a meta-analysis of more than ninety studies on education, and the results suggest that perhaps it is time for America’s leadership and the general public to take a second look at religious private schools. At the risk of immodesty, let me be frank. The study is hugely important because it is the first published meta-analysis to compare the three primary types of American schools: religious private schools, traditional public schools, and charter schools.

A meta-analysis statistically combines all the relevant existing studies on a given subject in order to determine the aggregated results of the research. This meta-analysis yielded results that surprised many by indicating that students from public charter schools did no better than their peers in traditional public schools. In contrast, youth from religious private schools performed better academically than their counterparts in both public charter schools and traditional public schools, even when the results were adjusted to account for socioeconomic status, selectivity, race, and various other factors.

[...]Examining results from all ninety studies, I found that the average academic outcome for religious school students was .28 of a standard deviation unit higher than for traditional public school (TPS) students, while the average for charter school students was only .01 of a standard deviation unit higher. If one converts these numbers to percentiles, the average academic outcome was 11 percentage points higher than that of TPS pupils, while charter school attendees scored about the same as their TPS counterparts.

Translated into more tangible numbers, students who attend private religious schools attain educational levels that average about twelve months ahead of those attending regular public schools. Even when the meta-analysis employed sophisticated controls, which included measures for socioeconomic status, selectivity, gender, and race, youth who attended faith-based schools achieved at levels seven months ahead of both TPS and public charter school students.

One of the most intriguing results of the study is that the racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps are roughly 25 percent narrower in religious private schools than in public schools. This finding is particularly interesting when one considers that over the years the government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars to bridge the gaps, with only limited success. Higher expectations for students, and school leaders’ insistence that pupils take demanding courses, could help to explain these circumstances in faith-based schools.

The meta-analysis focused primarily on scholastic performance, but it also examined student behavior. The results indicated that youth from faith-based schools maintained even a larger edge in behavior than they did in school academics. That is, pupils from religious private schools exhibited fewer behavioral problems, even when socioeconomic status, selectivity, race, and gender were also controlled for. This translates into fewer gangs, lower levels of drug abuse, and greater racial harmony than one typically finds in public schools.

Many people, even this researcher, expected public charter school students to perform somewhere in between the levels achieved by students attending faith-based schools and those attending traditional public schools, given that they were trying to mimic certain aspects of private religious schools.

To the extent that neither traditional public schools nor charter schools are succeeding on a broad scale, it appears that the best hope for American education is religious private schools. Not only are they considerably more economically efficient, but their students also achieve better academic and behavioral results.

I think that it is noteworthy that Democrats opposes allowing parents – especially poor parents – to have a choice of what school their children will attend. The Obama administration even de-funded a voucher program that served poor-minority students. Teacher unions are one of the strongest pro-Democrat special interests. If the Democrat Party has to choose between poor, minority students and their powerful allies in the teach unions, the choice is not a hard one. They choose the teacher unions.

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Wayne Grudem explains what the Bible says about parents and schools

This is a must-listen, especially for any single Christian woman who would like to get married and have children. If you want to marry a Christian man, you should listen to this lecture and also the Dr. Morse lecture on marriage Every Day. Christian men expect Christian women to know a lot about marriage. About why children need mothers, and why they need fathers, and how the state is always taxing families and then using that money to poke their noses in and teach the children all kinds of bad things.

With that introduction, here is the MP3 file on education policy.

Note: public schools = government-run schools.

Topics:

  • Does God care whether we people marry and have children?
  • Does God care whether Christian parents raise their children to know him?
  • Should government promote bearing children?
  • What are some effects of declining birth rates in other countries?
  • What are the economic effects of declining birth rates?
  • Who has the right to decide how children are trained: government or parents?
  • What does the Bible say about parents having to raise children to know him?
  • Does the government have the responsibility for training children?
  • What do educational bureaucrats think of parents training children?
  • What do school boards think of parents training children?
  • Should school boards be elected by local, state or federal government?
  • Should Christians be opposed to government-run education? (public schools)
  • How should schools be viewed by parents? As a replacement or as a helper?
  • How are schools viewed by those on the left and in communist countries?
  • How can you measure how supporting a government is of parental rights?
  • How is parental authority viewed in left-wing EU countries like Germany?
  • How is parental authority respected in the United States?
  • Should parents have a choice of where their children go to school?
  • What is a voucher program? How is it related to parental autonomy?
  • How does competition (school choice) in education serve parental needs?
  • Why do public school teachers, unions and educrats oppose competitition?
  • How well do public schools do in educating children to achieve?
  • Does the government-run monopoly of public schools produce results?
  • Does paying more and more money to public schools make them perform?
  • How do teacher unions feel about having to compete in a voucher system?
  • Does the public school monopoly penalize the poorest students?
  • Does the public school monopoly penalize children of certain races?
  • Does the public school monopoly cause racial predujice?
  • What else should parents demand on education policy?
  • Is it good for parents when schools refuse to fire underperforming teachers?

This podcast is just amazing! This is what we need to be teaching in church. Church should be the place where you go to learn and reflect about how to tailor your life plan based on what the Bible says. And I think that this whole notion of free market – of choice and competition benefiting the consumer (parents) – applies to everything that government does, especially education and health care.

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Good news: school choice victory in Indiana, pro-life victory in North Dakota

The Heritage Foundation reports.

Excerpt:

It’s hard to overstate what an outstanding victory for school choice Indiana’s Supreme Court issued yesterday.

Indiana’s highest court ruled unanimously in Meredith v. Pence that the Choice Scholarship Program (CSP), which provides vouchers to low-income and middle-income families in the Hoosier State, is constitutional. The suit, brought by the teachers unions, sought to end the country’s largest and most inclusive school voucher program.

Thankfully for the families currently participating in the CSP—and for the 600,000 children who are now eligible to receive scholarships to attend a private school that meets their unique learning needs—the court sided 5–0 with educational freedom. As the Institute for Justice’s Bert Gall notes that

the unions’ legal claims focused on two types of constitutional provisions that are common in most other state constitutions: 1) provisions requiring that states provide a “general and uniform” system of public education; and 2) provisions forbidding state support of religion.

With regard to requiring a uniform system of public education, Gall goes on to write that the court “showed that the duty to provide a ‘general and uniform’ system of public schools is not violated when a state provides educational options above and beyond the system.”

As for the provision prohibiting state support of religion, the court noted that

any benefit to program-eligible schools, religious or non-religious, derives from the private, independent choice of the parents of program-eligible students, not the decree of the state, and is thus ancillary and incidental to the benefit conferred on these families.

The Indiana ruling not only ends the challenge to the voucher program in the state, it is also an important victory for school choice and, as Gall put it, “solidifie[s] the growing body of case law supporting school choice and expose[s] the flaws in the teachers’ unions’ favorite legal claims.”

That’s good news for fiscal conservatives, but there was also good news for social conservatives last week – in North Dakota.

Excerpt:

If abortion proponents condemned 2011 as “the year of abortion restrictions… mark[ing] a sea change for abortion rights,” and 2012 as “an unmitigated disaster for abortion rights,” I can’t imagine what they will say about 2013.

In 2011 there were a record 92 pro-life laws enacted in the states, followed by the second highest number, 43, in in 2012. This year has already seen at least 14 pro-life bills become law, according toMailee Smith, Staff Counsel for Americans United for Life, so we are on track for another banner year.

But in 2013 we are not only seeing a high volume of typical pro-life legislative fare, we are seeing passage of pro-life legislation on steroids, the likes of which has never been observed in 40 years of legalized abortions throughout the U.S.

Yesterday, North Dakota adopted the “heartbeat” ban, which outlaws abortion once a baby’s heart tones can be detected, as early as six weeks. At the same time ND Governor Jack Dalrymple signed the first ever ban against eugenic abortions for fetal abnormalities or gender.

Bumped from the top spot, held only three weeks, was Arkansas, which on March 6 passed what was then an unprecedented ban on abortions after 12 weeks.

Just a week prior, Arkansas became the 10th* state to pass a ban on abortions after 20 weeks.

Then there’s the Personhood Amendment. On March 22 North Dakota became the first state to legislatively authorize a ballot initiative that would establish the right to life from the moment of conception.

All the more reason for sensible Americans to continue their mass emigration from leftist blue states to conservative red states.

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