By: Kyle Palmer and Matt Hodapp
It was a lively discussion this week with our original team of teachers from Episode 1. So lively, in fact, that we have just two central topics this time.
School choice has been a hot topic recently after Donald Trump featured the idea prominently in his joint address to Congress. But our teachers remain unconvinced a broad-based rollout of choice models--especially vouchers and tax credit scholarships--will be effective.
“I think parents should have a choice, but when I hear this notion of having ‘choice’ to go to parochial schools and home schools, what I fear is that minority students will be turned away,” says Princeston. He points more than 90 percent of students are “choosing” to stay in traditional public schools right now.
For Maggie, it’s more personal. Though she has had a few conversations with parents about potentially switching to a charter school or private school, the more intense discussions come within her own family. She says a “large portion” of her family are already “opting out” by sending their children to private schools. “I understand why a voucher program is attractive to them, it helps them subsidize their child’s education,” she says, “but as a public school teacher, my answer is, ‘You know, that’s a sacrifice you’re choosing to make with your money. I love you, but if you don’t want the financial burden, send your kids to public school.’”
Our other big topic this week was school funding. Next door to where our podcast is taped in Kansas, the state Supreme Court ruled recently that the state is constitutionally underfunding schools, possibly to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. Similarly, in Missouri, Gov. Eric Greitens has proposed cutting about $14 million from K-12 funding, but justified it by saying none of that money would come from classrooms.
Rebeka dismisses that reasoning: “All dollars are classroom dollars. It all comes from one container, if something is cut, then if you have to take it from somewhere else. If I need new books, new technology, a chair replaced, a new roof because it’s leaking in the corner...again...it all comes from one source. So, if there are cuts, then I might not get one of those.”
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