Podcast: What the school board members who shape your child’s curriculum really believe

By Rachel del Guidice | The Daily Signal

Over 14,000 school boards, with about 100,000 members, set the course for instruction in classrooms across the country. To understand the views of parents and school board members in debates about K-12 content and policy, The Heritage Foundation commissioned a nationally representative survey.

The survey covered views on civics education, school discipline, and character- and values-based instruction. Lindsey Burke, director of the Center for Education Policy at The Heritage Foundation, joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to discuss.

Listen to the podcast below. (Discussion begins at 08:58)

Image courtesy of Public domain

6 thoughts on “Podcast: What the school board members who shape your child’s curriculum really believe

  1. Caution: This is a classic ‘push poll’ conducted by Lindsey Burke, director of the Center for Education Policy at The Heritage Foundation. She and her pollsters can’t help but be influenced by their personal biases. And I say this as one who’s personal bias tends to align with Ms. Burke’s.

    The single most important take-away is the emphasis on School Choice, be it vouchers or tax credits or the hybrid (that both Ms. Burke and I prefer) – Education Savings Accounts.

    ESAs are similar to Health Savings Accounts. Parents receive a voucher that is determined to be a ‘reasonable’ amount of taxpayer support for the education of a student. I say ‘reasonable’ because one size doesn’t fit all, not in the curricula to be taught, not in the amount of financial support. Disabled students, for example, should be held to a standard that matches their IEP (Individual Education Plan). In fact, all students should have IEPs, disabled or otherwise, that qualify for progressive funding amounts.

    Long story short – School Choice creates a free market in education goods and services. Just imagine where student education performance would be today if it had been deregulated along with the ‘Ma Bell’ phone system. In 30 years, we’ve progressed from party lines to Smart Phones. And I mean ‘really smart’ phones.

    For those of you not old enough to know what a party line was, it’s similar to today’s public education system. Several local households sharing the same phone line with the distinction of the number of rings in sequence indicating which household was being called. Eaves dropping was the norm. When I moved to Vermont in 1976, I was on a party line. My how things have changed.

    But not the education system. Do you see this point?

    As a former school board member, I disagree with much of what this Heritage Foundation poll finds. School boards, for example, are ineffective for many reasons. First of all, they control very little of what goes on in school. Second, they are prone to conflicts of interest, more often than not, infiltrated by education special interest groups. Third, most people who run for school board don’t have anywhere near the technical expertise to effectively manage school policy. And lastly, school board members are people too, with their own personal biases.

    Again, if there’s anything to be taken from this podcast (or the actual report – it’s available on line), it is that School Choice is the single most important social construct affecting our society today. Until all parents can choose the school they believe best meets the needs of their children, our school system will continue to provide poor education outcomes at ever higher costs.

    School Choice is the civil rights issue of our day.

    • The most telling matter (so far) about this most important of issues, our children’s education (i.e. indoctrination), the single greatest taxpayer expense for most Vermonters, is that no one has anything to say about it.

      I mean, really.

      There are comments about a Covid variant that ‘may resist’ (or may not resist) a vaccine. I’m betting on the ‘may not’ option.

      Comments about how Republicans are ‘laser focused’ (or not) on a post-COVID recovery – you know:
      1. Where to spend more taxpayer money.
      2. Where to get more taxpayer money, and then spend it.
      3.Then make state government more efficient – as it spends more taxpayer money.

      But not a word from Republicans about opening our schools, or how they should open, …yada yada yada.

      And then there’s the article about how the WHO doctors in China manipulated viruses just before the pandemic. Ya think….?

      It’s all about priorities, folks. There’s not a damn thing any of you can do about the vaccines or what doctors in China did, or what Republicans Randy Brock and Patricia McCoy can get done in a progressive/democrat controlled legislature with a RINO Governor and more poltical appointees than you can shake a stick at.

      But you can do something about education because you have a better chance electing school board members who aren’t beholden to the special interest groups that run our State government than you do with any of this other stuff.

      Like Eli Wallach’s character, Tuco (in the Good, the Bad and the Ugly), said:
      “If you’re gonna shoot, shoot. Don’t talk.”

      • Jay, I am in complete agreement with you. As someone who has no idea how to go about making a change, can you provide insight on what the regular folk can do to get school choice to become a reality?

        • OK. Let’s go through a quick exercise that will benefit you and, perhaps, other TNR readers.

          You may not have to change anything. If you live in Vermont, School Choice vouchers are already available. The program is called ‘Tuitioning’.

          Apparently, though, most parents don’t know how the system works. It appears that they don’t have the time to assume the responsibilities inherent with their liberty and freedom in the first place – or they’re not inclined to do so for other reasons. Remember, when it comes to education, one size doesn’t fit all. Not only do you have to have an idea about how’ to make a change, you have to have an idea about ‘what’ that change should be – AND be willing to accept responsibility for the consequences of your choices…. because no one else will.

          So, first, I have to ask: is your question merely rhetorical? Or do you have children in a Vermont public school with which you’re dis-satisfied?

          If you answer ‘no’ to the first question, and ‘yes’ to the second, consider Vermont Statute:

          Title 16: Education
          Chapter 21: Maintenance Of Public Schools
          § 822. School district to maintain public high schools or pay tuition
          (c)(1) A school district may both maintain a high school and furnish high school education by paying tuition:
          (B) to an approved independent school or an independent school meeting education quality standards if the school board judges that a student has unique educational needs that cannot be served within the district or at a nearby public school.
          (2) The judgment of the board shall be final in regard to the institution the students may attend at public cost.

          Read the statute carefully and tell us what you think it says.

          • You have sent that link to me, and I sent it on to friends with a child entering high school next year.

            For me, I’m asking as a person with children in the elementary ages, and choosing a Catholic school. We have public school options here, and our children did attend until this past year. After having attended the private school for half a year, I will choose to keep them at private school. I know there is a case within Vermont about having the voucher apply to a Catholic school.

            So I guess my real question is how do I make a change/ whom do I contact about getting these school vouchers to be applicable to every person, including children in the elementary age?

          • The only current way to ‘tuition’ an elementary school student is for the local school board to recommend the dissolution of your district’s public school. But several Vermont districts have done so.

            Consider the Village School of North Bennington. It was founded in 2013 as the successor to the public school operated in North Bennington for generations. The transition from a public school to a publicly funded, private academy was approved three times by votes of the community prior to approval by the Vermont Board of Education.

            “Residents in North Bennington Graded School District now enjoy school choice for the elementary grades. Resident children can attend the Village School without cost, or public tuition is portable to certain other private schools. Overwhelmingly residents have chosen the Village School. Non-resident children may attend the school by paying tuition.”

            With regard to tuitioning to Catholic Schools, or any parochial school for that matter, the legal battle in Vermont is in the courts as we speak. However, given the democrat leanings of our judges, the cases in the courts may have to be appealed. As we’ve seen over and again, activist judges, especially in Vermont, have a propensity to legislate from the bench.

            But, at some point, the law is the law. The SCOTUS has, on two recent and separate cases, ruled that publicly funded tuition vouchers can be used by parents to send their children to religious schools. The first case was Zelman v. Simmons-Harris in 2002. The second, just last summer, was Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, both cases ruling in favor of parents seeking to use publicly funded scholarship funds for religious private schools.

            Additionally, “Vermont is facing at least its second lawsuit in four months over a voucher program that allows students in communities that don’t have schools or are not part of supervisory unions to attend schools of their choice, including approved private institutions.”

            “[One] Vermont suit comes six months after a divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a Montana case that states can’t cut religious schools out of programs that send public money to private education. Following that decision, three Vermont families filed a lawsuit in September in federal court, saying that denying them the state tuition benefit to send their children to religious schools is unconstitutional.”

            So – there is one tangible way to achieve elementary school choice now. Privatize or close your local public elementary school – a local decision.

            The other method is to join the legal cases currently in the courts. Contact Liberty Justice Center.

            No matter what, consider that your child will be in high school sooner than you can imagine. And, under Vermont Statute, high school is grades 7 through 12. So start getting yourself ready to rock and roll. Elect school board members sympathetic to their school choice authority. It’s easier, after all, to affect change at the local level than through the Vermont democrat majority legislature controlled by public education special interest groups.

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