School choice: The ultimate accountability?
That's the position that Patricia Levesque of the Foundation for Florida's Future takes in an op-ed piece for Florida Today.
Some Floridians still question the value of corporate tax credit scholarships — vouchers to many — so Levesque, who's tight with former governor Jeb Bush, wades again into the debate. She writes:
"Independent studies show that choice improves Florida's public schools, saves taxpayer dollars and raises public school achievement. According to a state analysis, learning gains made by scholarship recipients are consistent with students of all income levels nationally. In the end, Tax Credit Scholarship schools face the ultimate accountability— the parent. If parents do not like the education their child is receiving, they can take their money elsewhere — a form of accountability public schools lack."
True? To a point, right? Florida law requires school districts offer school choice, and they do, though lately with restrictions to schools with open seats (class size, you know). A child's FTE funding follows. To be sure, though, corporations don't benefit under that program. And neither do the private schools that the voucher recipients select.
Then there's that pesky question about testing: Voucher schools don't use the FCAT, raising questions about their outcomes compared to the public schools. Yet the amount spent per student does appear lower through the vouchers than in the mainstream system.
Any other thoughts on this subject? Let's hear them.