Want parents in charge of education?

Published 2:52 pm Friday, February 26, 2010

I am up to my gizzard with our governor and Legislature and assorted bureaucrats stomping around in public education with little regard for the consequences of their actions.

Example: One school system in the state has been considering allowing the police to bring Tasers into the schools to quell unruly students.

While this is going on, Gov. Sonny Perdue has rolled out a proposal to pay teachers on performance.

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“It will put them on the same playing field as our state’s top coaches who are rewarded for consistently winning games,” he said.

It has been a long time since I was in school, but I don’t think coaches have to taser their players to get them to perform. If the kid has an attitude, a coach will run him or her until their tongue hangs out. If that doesn’t work, they kick them off the team.

Can’t you see our education poobahs allowing teachers to do that?

If you kick the unruly louts out of the classroom in Georgia, that counts against the school’s graduation rate, which counts against Adequate Yearly Progress, which gets you on the Needs Improvement list, which can cause the state to take over your school, which can cause administrators and teachers to be transferred, which can result in blah, blah, blah, blah.

Maybe I should call the governor and ask if tasing will be considered when judging a teacher’s performance. (I’m sorry, Miss Figby, but we had to zap your Fifth Period Social Studies class and they didn’t regain consciousness until after final exams, so you won’t be getting a raise. Better luck next year when we will be using tear gas and smoke bombs.”)

It is this kind of stuff that got my shorts in a wad when I read that State Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) had introduced a bill to allow parents to transfer their children into private or parochial schools and use state funds to do it. I didn’t like that and I said so.

Rogers called to explain SR 631 and his reasons behind it. He says the measure would allow children in foster homes and children in military families to avail themselves of the opportunity and join special needs children who already have that right.

“We are talking about less than one percent of the population,” he says, “and the money is state money that already follows students who transfer from one school to another today. It does not impact the local school budget.”

Why this bill at this time?

The majority leader said, “The question we as a society must answer is who determines the proper learning environment, the parent or the government? When we put parents in charge, allowing them to choose the right teacher and the right educational setting for their child, Georgia can truly have a world-class educational system.”

I think he is right and wrong. Good parents will make good decisions. Bad parents will still be bad parents. Rogers counters by saying that where voucher systems have been in effect, only between 5 and 7 percent of students transfer and that the success rate of the voucher system has been “overwhelming.”

The majority leader says he is passionate about public education. His mother was a public school teacher, his father worked in the public school system and his brother is a public school principal.

I have school teachers in my family, too. They are beating their brains out trying to insert a love of learning in young people while drowning in bureaucratic red tape, furloughs and a state that talks a good game about public education but doesn’t always walk the talk.

Rogers says he would rather parents be responsible for their children’s learning environment than the government. I agree. However, since government is proposing to rate teacher performance, let’s also ask government to rate parent performance. If parents don’t insist their little darlings attend class and behave, don’t review their kid’s homework or don’t show up for scheduled teacher conferences, zap ’em with a Taser.

You want parental responsibility and a world-class educational system? That should do it.