If a legislator or Governor proposes vouchers, depend on the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA) to find fault. Charter school expansion?-no support from the PSBA. This group has long since abandoned or subordinated its two primary responsibilities, i.e., quality education for students and good stewardship of taxpayer dollars.
As evidence, on October 12, the PSBA once again decried the Governor’s recently announced proposal to launch a voucher system for poor students attending failing schools. The PSBA response: only a few kids would benefit while others would be stuck in failing schools that would be underfunded because of the loss of state money going to the vouchers. There is no evidence the schools would be underfunded. There is reason to believe the schools would be under pressure to improve.
Instead, they trot out another cliché filled set of proposals to improve education. These proposals fall into three categories; recruiting and improving teachers, preparing students for success, and providing schools with tools for success. Any informed observer would be quick to ask: What? Are we not spending billions trying to do those things already? How many teacher improvement programs are in place already that are getting rave reviews from thePSBA regarding their effectiveness?
Preparing students for success? That is so lame. This is simply education establishment rhetoric that we have heard for decades. Now we are supposed to trust a group that has a vested interest in maintaining its views of what education should look like. For many poorly performing school districts around the state, the PSBA has done nothing but prolong the agony of students who leave with a diploma but who are functionally illiterate and innumerate. Opposition to real reform such as widespread use of vouchers is the predictable and unfortunate battle cry of the PSBA.
And finally, the PSBA plan to provide schools with tools for success rings completely hollow. The most important ingredients in creating a learning environment are not gadgets and highfaluting educationese. What must be present are dedicated, excited teachers and a disciplined classroom environment. Political correctness and progressivism have not and cannot be the principal components of a quality education.
The problem with the PSBA is that it has forgotten the Constitutional language providing for public education. It is more interested in protecting the monopoly of public schools than it is ensuring that students are receiving a quality and efficiently delivered education. Thus, the PSBA stands in the way of allowing students who want an education to escape the failing schools they are stuck in. How many lives have been set on a dead end track because of decades of lousy education that could have been substantially much better if vouchers had been available?
One would hope the PSBA would be willing to give other ideas a chance.