Hodge letter, CJ Online – Letter: School choice can work

http://cjonline.com/stories/122708/opi_371454673.shtml

Posted: Saturday, December 27, 2008
By The Capital-Journal
In a difficult period of economic correction, there is no better time for leaders in Kansas to finally embrace a movement that will create tremendous economic growth, lower taxes, diversify the community and provide hope and opportunity in the inner city.

I am writing about consumer-driven school choice: allowing parents and students to determine where to receive an education. There is one chief reason why the public higher education system works and why the K-12 system doesn’t: competition.

Let’s be clear about two things:

• The move away from government-run education is already occurring. The Kansas numbers are incredible. Between 1970 and 2000, Kansas grew by 25 percent in population, yet the total number of children in public schools grew not at all. Interestingly, during that period, the number of teachers grew by 30 percent, and the number of school administrators grew by 90 percent.

• Local business leaders actively oppose educational reform. So-called chambers of commerce have allowed unions, government schools and trial lawyers to cloud their reasoning.

School choice proponents are extremely flexible in our request to provide parents with vouchers or tax credits worth merely a fraction of what the school district would otherwise receive (the state average is $12,000 per student).

Within weeks of such legislation, great new schools with enthusiastic teachers would appear, providing diverse educational services.

Johnson County Community College has convinced me of these things:

• Deregulation is usually a good thing. JCCC students who received education from home – often from parents with no government-approved teaching license – are among the strongest students.

• Increased competition benefits the consumer.

• The consumer almost always makes the right decision.

Let’s embrace school choice. Freedom is what makes America exceptional, and freedom always lives up to its promise.

BEN HODGE, Johnson County Community College board member and former state representative, Overland Park

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