Recall candidates ought to assist daring schooling reform now, not in 2022 – Orange County Register
Education is becoming a hot topic of recall voting.
Leading Republican candidates have spoken out in favor of transforming the California public school system. Everyone wants to see parents rather than teachers unions in the driver’s seat, a shift they believe is key to restoring learning.
Specifically, they are behind efforts to put in place a 2022 ballot initiative that will allow parents to withdraw their children from public schooling and take away some of the tax dollars that will be used to educate those students. Parents would receive approximately $ 14,000 to pay for alternative education such as private school or home schooling. Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) – something more states allow each year – provide all students, regardless of income or zip code, with the means to access quality education.
But candidates and voters don’t have to wait for 2022 or a new governor to pass such a program. These accounts can now be set up to provide immediate help to students and provide proof of concept for a larger, more permanent program that will be presented to voters over the next year.
Thanks to federal COVID aid, California schools are receiving over $ 15.3 billion in additional one-time funding to help students recover from extended school closings. The school districts that control the majority of this money can spend it flexibly, but must use at least 20 percent to make up for the loss of learning. The easiest and most evidence-based method to bring students back to class level is through complementary ESAs.
These parent-controlled accounts could be offered to any student or targeted group in need of more help. Similar to ongoing ESA programs, parents could only spend the money on pre-approved educational expenses, just as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program debit cards can only be used to purchase groceries.
With an ESA, a student could access one-to-one tuition with a certified teacher in the subjects where they need help the most. Students with disabilities could access support services that they missed while away from school. A broader program would give less-funded parents the resources they need to put their children in private schools, where they will be given face-to-face tuition during public school closings, as Governor Gavin Newsom’s children did.
McKinsey & Company looked at the impact of school closings and found that, on average, students were four months behind in reading and five months behind in math. Loss of learning among minority and low-income students was even more severe. Worse still, this is the “optimistic scenario” as the results were derived from personal assessments this spring, which excluded the many California students who were still at home at the time.
Districts should spend as much of their one-time federal aid to students as possible, but even allocating the minimum 20 percent for an ESA program would be transformative for children. If Sacramento City Unified did this, each child could receive over $ 1,300 in aid. In Los Angeles and Fresno, students could get over $ 2,000. Even districts that receive lower amounts, such as San Diego and San Francisco, have the option of offering students around $ 1,000 in aid.
Efforts to drive substantial change in California schools through a 2022 election proposal are worthwhile, but we are mistaken if we believe this is the only way to truly reform education. The interests of the California children have been pursued long enough. We have the money to help them. Now is the time.
Chantal Lovell is the director of communications at California Policy Center, a nonprofit that works to remove barriers to freedom in the public sector.
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