Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Education Choice Update

Two interesting stories relating to school choice. First the bad news (via Reuters):

A chain of private California schools that taught immigrants there are 53 U.S. states and four branches of the U.S. government was ordered to stop handing out phony diplomas this week, state Attorney General Bill Lockyer said on Friday.
Authorities seized the assets of California Alternative High School and asked a judge to stop the company's 30 schools statewide from handing out "high school diplomas" to students dreaming of a better life through education, Lockyer said.

The company charged its mainly Latino students $450 to $1,450 for a 10-week course based on a 54-page book that was riddled with errors, according to a lawsuit filed on Monday.

Students learned that Congress had two houses -- the Senate for Democrats and the House for Republicans; that the U.S. flag had not been updated to reflect the addition of Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico to the "original" 50 states; that the federal "administrative" branch oversees the Treasury Department; and that World War II occurred from 1938 to 1942.

Captain Ed has more comments but I just wanted to point out that this sort of thing has always been a major objection those of us on the pro-voucher campaign have had to put up with through the years. The argument is to the effect that, if voucher programs were allowed to thrive, there would be no effective way to prevent charlatans from setting up schools and cheating the tax-payers. And yet we do not have vouchers in California and somehow this managed to happen anyway. Strange. Now these poor people are out an average of about $1000 and probably will never recover it. If it had been the State of California that was cheated, do you think it's possible that the government might have a slightly better chance of recovering the loss? Something to think about.

But there is good news on the Education Choice front, although it is not really news to some of us:
Most home-school students aren't ducking the state assessment tests required under federal law, and many of those who aren't required to take them do it anyway.

"We studied it in the late 1990s, and home schoolers averaged 20-30 percentage points higher than the rest of the students," said Ian Slatter, spokesman for the National Center for Home Education in Purcellville, Va.

"Not every home schooler, but a lot of home schoolers take the tests. A lot of times it's a requirement," he said Monday. "Many states do not require it but a lot of parents choose to take it."

The home-school students take the tests in a variety of ways. Sometimes it's at the neighborhood school, others in a neutral setting, and the ones just taken for the benefit of parents who want to make sure their children are keeping up are taken at home.

So all those unregulated, anti-social, homeschooled misfits are, uh, actually taking the stanardized tests when they aren't legally required to. Just because their parents (i.e. instructors) want to know how well they are doing. Imagine.

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