Saturday, July 7, 2007

Too Much Government

Public School Choice - Open Enrollment

I am a big fan of parental choice in all aspects of our children's lives. I have been an advocate for more parental choice in education and I support public school choice as a component of the total choice package. It was interesting this Spring to watch the debate on the Open Enrollment bill in the South Carolina House of Representatives - to see the players involved, to hear and read the rhetoric, etc. What was interesting is that the past opponents of school choice issues involving private schools, such as the Put Parents In Charge bills, were using the same arguments that the supporters of the Put Parents In Charge bills used. Now, though, they were using these points in support of their position on the Open Enrollment bill. Interesting, to say the least!

I support the idea and ideals behind this legislation. The problems revealed during the debate, most articulately by Rep. Ted Pitts, were that there was just too much government in this bill. With the district caps, the application bureaucracy and red tape for parents, the transportation issues and the funding issues - it was just a good idea gone wrong.

Why can't we take the easy and simple road?

My thoughts are this: If a school district has extra capacity then make it availabe, allowing parents who wish to move their child to do so on a 1st come / 1st served basis until the capacity is met; the parents making the choice provide the transportation, period; let the state and federal dollars flow with the child to the receiving district and let the home district retain all of the local funding. I realize that this may cause an underfunding dynamic per child to the receiving district - but it is a start and seems fair to the home district as well as the receiving district.

It can be just that simple.