This Is An Awfully Good Environment For Educational Innovation And Choice, No?

Here’s a press release the Pelican Institute put out just a few minutes ago which we thought we’d share and then offer a few comments to it…

EXPAND SCHOOL CHOICE PROGRAMS TO MEET COVID-19 CHALLENGES, PELICAN INSTITUTE SAYS IN NEW REPORT

Click hereto view the roadmap for expanding school choice in Louisiana.

BATON ROUGE, La. (Aug. 19, 2020) – Today, the Pelican Institute for Public Policy (Pelican Institute) released a policy roadmap for expanding school choice programs in Louisiana to address the challenges presented by COVID-19 and transform the state’s education system for future students and parents.

The solutions offered in the roadmap aim to both keep students learning and empower parents with options to give their children an education that best fits their individual needs. The Pelican Institute is calling on state leaders to enact several policies to address immediate needs stemming from the COVID-19 challenges, including implementing emergency Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), encouraging the institution of micro/pod schools, expanding virtual charter schools, and also a number of solutions that would expand choice offerings in rural and suburban areas of the state.

In addition to calling for these immediate actions, the document also offers resources on current school choice options available for Louisiana parents and their students. The Pelican Institute encourages parents across the state to review the current options, including charter schools, the Louisiana Scholarship Program, home study, the Tuition Donation Credit Program and others when making education plans for their children.

In calling on Louisiana leaders to move quickly on expanding school choice offerings, Ethan Melancon, the Pelican Institute’s education policy director, encouraged them to embrace the state’s pioneering spirit and history of courageous education reforms.

“COVID-19 has taught us that the way we delivered education was neither prepared nor agile enough to respond quickly to a major disruption, and now, Louisiana’s children are paying for it,” Melancon said. “Our goal must be to make educating our children the number one priority and to do that, we must envision a better education system that provides options for all students, regardless of their location or financial situation.”

Pelican Institute CEO Daniel Erspamer said the need for transformational change in Louisiana’s education system is more urgent than ever before, and direct action is needed now to avoid letting the state’s students fall further behind.

“What so many Louisiana families and advocates have known for a long time has become abundantly clear in recent months: our business-as-usual approach to education isn’t working, and an urgent fix is required,” Erspamer said. “The time to give parents greater options in how children receive their education is now. By placing the decision-making in the hands of the parents, we can help ensure every child has access to a high-quality education and give all students an equal chance to succeed. We hope every Louisiana education leader and citizen will join us in working to give our state’s children a school that fits their unique needs.”

There is reportedly going to be an October legislative session, mostly because Louisiana is set to run a $700 million budget deficit – and that’s if things don’t get worse, which is quite likely. In that session, some of these ideas might get fleshed out.

What we think ought to be the focus of that session, at least with respect to education, is the homeschool pods/microschools idea, and moving some taxpayer dollars into funding those through ESA’s and tax credits and so forth. Particularly if Louisiana’s schools aren’t going to fully open up for five-day-a-week in-person classroom learning, meaning that parents are going to have to disrupt their workdays in order to essentially homeschool their kids. What that amounts to is the schools taking their full revenue from taxpayers and then delivering only part of the product those dollars are paying for.

Well, Louisiana taxpayers have been screwed by these people long enough. It’s time to start looking at different ideas. We already know that public education in this state is among the worst in the country, and we know that it’s among the worst despite constant attempts at funding it at a level higher than our neighbors, imposing metrics aimed at improving performance, pouring money into school board races to get reformers elected and so on.

We’re not going to say nothing works. That isn’t true. There has been a little bit of improvement. But for the effort put into improving Louisiana’s public schools they ought to be among the best in the South and that certainly isn’t the case.

And now, these people who rake in some of the highest per-student, per-year costs for public education are telling us they can’t open the public schools for the full product they’re charging us for?

Fine. It’s time to start moving the money into something else. Providing an ESA or some other means of giving stipends to parents forced to get creative about home instruction of their kids is more than justified.

And the guess here is the microschools and homeschool pods are the future of education anyway, because they’re a whole lot more convenient and, if done correctly, they offer a lot better learning environment than those hyperexpensive proto-prisons complete with the Brutalist architecture and byzantine rules we’ve gloomily accepted for our kids. Allowing a teacher people have confidence in to set up a small business which involves semi-private tutoring and the leveraging of technology and the unlimited educational materials available online in order to find the best path forward for his or her students’ instruction, in a flexible environment free from bullying, school fights, abject boredom, long bus commutes and so forth might, with some resources flowing to it, completely change the game.

It’s not like we have much to lose, you know. And if the teachers’ unions and educrats want to screw us out of our tax dollars, they’ll deserve every bit of blowback we give them.

Let’s hope the legislators are willing to get aggressive with the items in the Pelican Institute report. We’re going to push for it.



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