PBS NEWSHOUR VIDEO
“The debate over vouchers and school choice is heating up anew in some states,” the PBS NewsHour‘s Margaret Warner reported this week, pointing to the ruling of the Indiana Supreme Court that left the state’s private school voucher program intact.
Does the Indiana high court’s decision have national impact? Probably not, according to teachers union president Dennis Van Roekel of the National Education Association.
“The legal implications for Indiana don’t go beyond the borders because it simply applies in Indiana,” Van Roekel told the NewsHour.
But voucher initiatives, American Federation for Children executive counsel Kevin Chavous said, are an example of “what works” to improve low-performing schools.Here are a few selected excerpts of the panelists’ comments. Van Roekel told the NewsHour:
I do think it will increase the conversation. And I don’t think that’s bad… We need to stay focused on the right of every child to have a good public education. And for those who oppose vouchers, what we believe is that you do not use — pay private school tuition at taxpayer expense… I believe it’s a shortsighted solution. [Vouchers are] changing the American focus that we ought to provide it for some and not for all. It’s such an inequitable system in America. You can go into some schools that have elaborate science laboratories, all kinds of technology, well-qualified and well-trained faculty. And you can go into others that look like they’re abandoned factories. That’s wrong.
We know what works. Accountability works, higher standards, higher expectations. And part of the challenge is we have got to figure out the best way to fly the plane while we fix it. Fixing it is all the things that Dennis talked about even more. We have got to look at work rules. We have got to look at paying at our quality teachers more and firing the bad teachers. But as we have seen since “A Nation at Risk” 30 years ago, that’s going to take years of work. In the meantime, half the kids of color are dropping out of American schools… Competition really does matter. I mean, no school district has ever reformed itself from within. They never have. They never will. The best form of change, the best way to get to where Dennis and I both want these kids and these families to get to is through external pressure. And the best form of external pressure is through educational choice.
We’ve embedded the full video above. You can also see it — and a full transcript of the story — here.