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Free market system for schools stance questioned

4/18/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Letter to the Editor

To the editor:

Karl Wodrich’s March 28, 2013, letter [“Parent wants free market system for schools] would benefit from some clarification. I commend him for his interest in improving education, but while he is certainly free to have opinions about what would improve our education system, some of his “facts” are really opinions that are not based on fact.

First, he claims that teacher unions are directly responsible for the decline of the education system. Yet, the facts are that if one looks at the five states where teacher union collective bargaining is illegal, those states consistently score low on school performance, based on ACT and SAT scores. North Carolina is 47th, Texas is 45th, South Carolina is 39th, Georgia is 26th and Virginia is 25th. If the absence of teacher unions improves education, these states haven’t received the memo yet. Further, even within Ohio, there are many districts that are high performing while having strong and active teacher unions.

The writer also claims that public schools are outperformed by private, charter and home schooling systems. Yet [recently] a local paper pointed out that last year of over 6,000 students in our area who moved from a public school to a charter school, 93 percent of them wound up in a worse-performing school. Several national studies likewise indicate that charter schools do not outperform public schools and often do worse. And studies have shown that private schools also do not outperform public schools when demographics are controlled for.

There is a political agenda in some quarters to crush unions, suppress middle-class incomes and privatize public assets. Some, but not all of those pushing for education “reform” subscribe to that agenda. Our education system absolutely needs to be improved, but the public should support reforms based on facts, not on political opinions. I wish educational improvement were as simple as outlawing unions and privatizing schools. But, in my opinion, there are many other factors to address, such as socio-economic status, parental involvement, teacher training and evaluation, school funding, administrative leadership and others.

I support a strong and healthy public school system and I ask everyone to urge our state legislators to stop the drain of public school funds to nonpublic schools. We are crippling the ability of schools to improve when we starve them of resources.

Frank Kunstel, Cuyahoga Falls

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