In a major release, Kentucky’s US Senators Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell take a strong and informed position in support of expanded school choice options for parents and students as an effective way to improve the nation’s chronically under-performing public school system.
Some of the senators’ points:
• “All children, no matter who they are or where they live, deserve an equal chance to develop their skills and intellect. But today in America, too many kids don’t get that chance.”
• “Politicians and bureaucrats have too much control, parents have too little, and students’ needs get lost in the shuffle.”
• “Every decision made by bureaucrats in Washington is a decision taken from the people who actually educate — principals, teachers, and especially parents.” (Pay attention, Common Core supporters!)
The senators cite some stunning school choice successes.
• “A recent evaluation of the school choice program in Washington, D.C. found that using a voucher to attend a private school significantly improved students’ chances of graduating from high school, increasing graduation rates by 21 percentage points.”
• “In Washington, D.C., the 41 percent of students who attend charter schools learn the equivalent of 72 days more in reading and 101 days more in math each year than similar students attending district schools, according to a Stanford University study.”
School choice options like charter schools have demonstrated particular success with traditionally under-served student populations like the poor and racial minorities.
Yet, Kentucky currently offers virtually no school choice options.
There is plenty of evidence that Kentucky badly needs choice. The proficiency rate gap between the state’s white and black students on both the fourth and eighth grade National Assessment of Educational Progress mathematics assessments more than doubled between the early 1990s and the latest available reports.
We badly need choice options when – after more than two decades of attempts to reform our traditional public schools – Kentucky’s eighth grade white students still were being outscored on NAEP math by white students in 39 other states and even Washington, DC.
It’s time for choice options when NAEP shows that after two-decades plus of education reform only a dismal 35 percent of all of our fourth grade students read proficiently.
Basically, it’s time for kids, not politics, not adult interests, to become the first focus of our education program. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul know it, and now you do, too.