Driven toward vouchers
Put him down as another convert. Mark Howard, executive editor of Florida Trend magazine (which is owned by the St. Petersburg Times), says he wasn't always a fan of vouchers. But Howard writes in this column that he has been pushed "steadily, if reluctantly, toward the choice camp" by what he has learned about public schools, including through his own kids' experiences:
"Perhaps the strongest argument for more choice in public education is the degree to which the public schools already have introduced elements of choice -– International Baccalaureate programs, magnet schools, 'fundamental' schools, alternative schools and charter schools. My daughter has thrived in an International Baccalaureate program that I would choose over any private education I could purchase in Pinellas County. To a large degree, market pressure –- the threat that large numbers of middle-class and other parents would abandon the system –- led to those innovations."
Howard also writes: "If a privately operated public charter school wastes money or is ineffective, it has to do better or it closes. The same, however, is never true of the publicly operated school around the corner. And so blindingly incompetent teachers at my son's middle school can teach pretty much what they choose, once tenured, with impunity."
Ron Matus, state education reporter