Forced Participation: Public Education’s Fatal Flaw

Steve Buckstein
Cascade Commentary

Forced Participation: Public Education’s Fatal Flaw

by Steve Buckstein

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The high school redesign exercise in Portland serves as a reminder of why top-down solutions are often doomed to fail. How could anyone except those at the top propose closing a popular and successful school like Benson Polytechnic? And how could anyone force families back inside the stifling brick walls of an unpopular and unsuccessful high school like Jefferson?

Fortunately, two individuals have recently come forward with surprisingly out-of-the-box statements that could open the door to some truly constructive solutions, at least for the students.

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Losing Choice in the Portland Public Redesign

Christina Martin
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By Christina Martin

Losing Choice in the Portland Public Redesign

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The Portland Public School District is considering a redesign that would close Marshall High School, convert Benson from a four-year vocational magnet into a two-year technical program, and eliminate most families’ option to transfer to other district schools. The plan is to make every neighborhood school big enough to support a wider variety of classes by keeping neighborhood children in their local schools.

This will trap many kids in schools that don’t serve their needs. Families with means will move close to the school that best fits their children’s needs. Families without means will be left behind, creating more inequity for the neediest families.

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For Real Reform, Allow More Innovative Schools

Kathryn Hickok
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By Kathryn Hickok

For Real Reform, Allow More Innovative Schools

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Governor Ted Kulongoski has decided that Oregon will not reapply for a federal “Race to the Top” school innovation grant this month. Oregon’s proposal was graded seventh worst in the nation, andKulongoski said Oregon “has a lot of foundational work to do” before being “truly competitive for any Race to the Top dollars.”

To improve New York’s bid for Race to the Top funds, the New York Senate more than doubled the cap on the state’s charter schools from 200 to 460. New York’s charter school bill is reportedly unlikely to pass the State Assembly in its current form. However, New York lawmakers are realizing that if they are serious about trying to win up to $700 million in federal grant money for educational innovation, they must allow more students to attend innovative schools.

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Florida Steps Up Their School Choice Scholarship Program

Kathryn Hickok
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Florida Steps Up Their School Choice Scholarship Program

By Kathryn Hickok

On April 9 the Florida legislature passed a major expansion of one of the nation’s prominent school choice programs, Step Up for Students. This program provides scholarships to Florida children from low-income families to attend a private school or an out-of-district public school, whether or not their local public school is judged by the government to be “succeeding” or “failing.”

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Private Scholarships: A Successful Path to High School Graduation

Kathryn Hickok
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Private Scholarships: A Successful Path to High School Graduation

By Kathryn Hickok

new study released by Cascade Policy Institute and the Foundation for Educational Choice reveals the dramatic economic and social costs of dropping out of high school in Oregon, and the long-lasting value of a helping hand extended early in a child’s life.

Since 1999 the Children’s Scholarship Fund has given over 111,000 low-income children nationwide a “hand up” in life through a quality elementary education in the private grade schools of their parents’ choice.

Here in Oregon, over 600 students have benefited from CSF scholarships, funded entirely by private donations from Oregonians and matching grants from the Children’s Scholarship Fund. CSF scholarships are a “hand up,” not a “hand-out.” The Oregon families who participate pay, on average, over half of their children’s tuition themselves, a serious commitment from families whose incomes average $33,000.

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111,000 Reasons for Hope

Kathryn HickokQuickPoint!


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Are you dismayed by the high school graduation rates in so many major cities in the U.S.? If you could do something to help lower-income kids graduate from high school on time, would you do it?

Since 1999 the Children’s Scholarship Fund has helped over 111,000 children nationwide to attend the private schools of their parents’ choice. Studies of CSF partner programs around the country show the difference educational opportunity has made in these children’s lives, including raising their chances of high school graduation.

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School Doors Open for Lower-Income Hoosier Children

Kathryn Hickok

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This summer Indiana became the most recent state to enact a state tax credit scholarship program for lower-income families to send their children to the schools of their choice. Providing a 50% tax credit for donations to student tuition scholarship organizations, the legislation promises to be a lifeline for lower-income children in the Hoosier state.

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It’s Summertime, But These Students Can’t Wait to Go to School

Kathryn Hickok

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Most gradeschool children are enjoying their summer off, but some young Oregonians already have September on their minds. You see, they are on the waiting list of the Children’s Scholarship Fund-Portland and eagerly hope to attend the school of their choice next fall.

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