We will hear a lot in this legislative session about how competition will improve public education. Much of the push for charters and vouchers is based on the belief that competition leads to better services.
Maybe so. But a corollary to the notion that competition leads to improvement is that competition has to be fair. If our legislature makes public money available to private schools, will the competition for those dollars be fair?
I think not. Competition is fair when everyone has to comply with the same laws. But there are numerous laws that restrict public schools but not private schools.
Here’s a quick list:
*IDEA. Private schools do not have to accept all students with disabilities, provide them FAPE or comply with the detailed paperwork and procedural requirements of IDEA.
*Chapter 37. Private schools set their own standards for student discipline, including expulsion.
*U.S. Constitution. Private schools do not have to afford due process to students or employees (14th Amendment), do not have to respect the right of privacy (4th Amendment) or free expression (1st Amendment).
*Chapter 21. Private schools are not restricted to certified teachers, do not have to offer contracts or comply with nonrenewal and/or termination procedures.
If you speak to people who support vouchers, you might want to suggest that any school that accepts vouchers should also agree to subject itself to all of the above. It costs money to comply with these legal requirements. So if the competition is to be fair, the laws need to apply to all in the same way.
DAWG BONE: WE LIKE COMPETITION, BUT ONLY IF IT IS FAIR.
What’s harder—brain surgery or teaching?