Vouchers key to true school reform

April 30, 2011

My interest in school reform stems from my years as a public school music educator. I therefore read with interest the Daily Herald’s Associated Press article by John O’Connor on April 15 titled, “Powerful unions key to education reform package.”

When considering the shallowness of the reforms, it is not surprising why Illinois Education Association President Ken Swanson, and other reform advocates, unions and education administrators, were united upon release to the media of the Education Reform legislation on April 13,

Illinois senators, who passed the legislation with a unanimous vote on April 14, are behaving as if they passed the “Magna Carta” and that the reforms will benefit the child in the classroom, when, in fact, the bill is merely a down-payment on what really needs to be done. Will reform proposals that curb tenure, layoffs by seniority and teacher strikes be enough to reverse the failures in urban centers like Chicago, where schools function as dropout factories? It isn’t very likely.

What is needed is education transformation, and not another round of tepid reform.

Bruno Behrend, Director, Center for School Reform at the Heartland Institute, says that tuition tax credits, vouchers and digital online learning should be expanded. He also notes that Rahm Emanuel ran on a “Parent Trigger” law that empowers parents with real power for the rapid reform of failing schools, another robust reform.

The fact is, the current education system is likely beyond “reform” and cannot be fixed because of an entrenched education cartel which directs money not to the children but to the powerful and protected interests that control the system.

Hopefully the voucher bill now being sponsored by Sen. Matt Murphy, a Palatine Republican, and Sen. James Meeks, a Chicago Democrat, will not receive the same fate as a similar bill did last year when it passed in the Senate only to fail in the House.

May legislators on the honest left and renegade Republicans still owned by the education cartel not fail this time around to give kids a fighting chance in life.

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