Friday, December 22, 2006

School Vouchers

I am reading articles about a proposal to make school vouchers available in TX to parents of children with autism. Let me say first that I am 100% for a school voucher program. That being said, I understand many of the fears that parents have about what could happen to the level of services currently being offered by schools.

A voucher program will work if it is allowed to work. If implemented by the legislature, it must be left alone and market forces must be allowed to take over and mold the program. If this is not done and government sets hurdles around every corner the program is destined for failure. The only way that a voucher program will be successful is if it is run as a business. This will never happen as the public education unions will not allow it.

If I, as a parent of two children with autism, have the choice of where to educate my children, this will mean that I have the choice to have them educated in the private sector at a school that will accept my voucher. This means that the public education system no longer has control over the education that my sons receive. On the surface this is not a big deal. Where this becomes a larger issue is that, if vouchers are offered for children with autism, it will not be long before they are made available to children with other issues and, ultimately, to all children. This means that teachers at underperforming schools (and teachers who are underperforming) will have to raise their levels of performance.

Unions will never allow their members to be told that they have to improve their level of performance. That's not their goal. Holding teachers accountable for their actions makes too much sense. If that were to occur, the next logical step would be performance based pay. Heaven forbid that we begin to operate our schools as any logical business and require performance from the workers there.

Let me stop in the middle of this rant and throw in the qualifier that, even if offered vouchers, I would not move my children from their current educational setting. We have the great fortune of being in a school district and at a school where both the administration and educators understand autism and do a FANTASTIC job with my sons! I am blessed with the good fortune of being at a school that provides my boys with education that is not available in many other places, including those with more dollars and resources.

Okay. That's enough. Time to go workout.

Merry Christmas!