Roper: Want more diversity in Vermont, promote school choice

By Rob Roper

Florida experienced some very close statewide elections this cycle, including its race for governor in which Republican Ron Desantis edged by Democrat Andrew Gillum. The interesting and deciding factor in that race was that an unusually large number of African American women abandoned the Democratic (and fellow African American) candidate Gillum to vote for Desantis. Why? School choice.

Rob Roper

Rob Roper is the president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

The Wall Street Journal did an analysis of the race titled, “‘School Choice Moms’ Tipped the Governor’s Florida Race.” According to the Journal, Desantis won 18% of the black, female vote, which is considerably more than single digit level most Republicans usually get from African Americans. Not insignificantly, Desantis also won an impressive (for a Republican) 44 percent of the Latino vote, also credited in part to his support for school choice.

In Florida, more than 100,000 low-income students, most of whom are minorities, participate in the Step Up For Students program, which grants tax-credit funded scholarships that allow these kids to attend private schools. Apparently, the moms of these 100,000 were enough voters to tip a race decided by around 40,000.

For many minority communities, school choice is seen as “the civil rights issue of our time,” and in this particular case, a civil rights imperative even more important than electing Florida’s first African American governor.

There have been many news headlines in Vermont over the past several months lamenting the lack of diversity in our state. Yet, here we have the oldest, and I would argue, the most comprehensive and dynamic school choice system in the country.

Maybe it’s time to shout that fact from the rooftops and let the country know of our role in “the civil rights issue of our time.” Maybe even expand the system that we have now. If we want more African Americans to see Vermont as a place that is welcoming, let’s lead on an issue they clearly care deeply about.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.

Images courtesy of SchoolChoiceWeek.com and Rob Roper

8 thoughts on “Roper: Want more diversity in Vermont, promote school choice

  1. The big public education monopoly claims to be against discrimination, then they discriminate against children who do not fit into the one size fits all public school factory. Hypocrites

  2. The big public education monopoly pretends its argument against school choice is “equity, non-discrimination, and transparency” the truth is, union jobs are more important than kids to the big public education monopoly.

  3. A bit of ‘white hatred’ ? We aren’t good enough? Oh, woe be us…we don’t have enough welfare cases to support? Give me a break.

  4. Don’t sell Vermont’s School Choice tuitioning short. It’s unrestricted with the exception of choosing a parochial school. In high school, for example, parents receive a $15,300 voucher to send their children to any public or approved independent school they deem best for their children. They can even go out of state. If the parents choose another public school that charges more than the voucher, the State picks up the difference. But not so for independent schools.

    The problem is that not all districts qualify for School Choice tuitioning. And that’s a constitutional issue that’s going to be challenged sooner or later. But for those districts that have tuitioning, few other programs in any State, including Florida, can compare to the dollar amount available or the flexibility.

    With regard to ‘proven facts’, there are myriad studies showing the benefits of school choice autonomy.

    The Effects of Town Tuitioning in Vermont and Maine by Christopher Hammons

    Increasing Student Success Through Instruction in Self-Determination
    An enormous amount of research shows the importance of self-determination (i.e., autonomy) for students in elementary school through college for enhancing learning and improving important post-school outcomes.

  5. Vermont’s school choice is very much limited as compared to Florida’s. Florida’s is a tax credit system, so the money for choice is much less controlled by the state. As such, in terms of underlying ideas, Florida’s choice program has choices that Vermont does not. Vermont at this point holds a prejudice against worldviews that challenge humanist ideas, including that all is explained by random chance and survival of the fittest. Yet, these ideas are far from proven fact and instead are full of holes, not the least of which is that essentially nobody lives their life remotely like these ideas are true. They simply do not fit with human experience of history. Perhaps that is why their “strongest supporters” feel they need to protection of the state to stay alive. Of course a truly strong supporter would be happy to have his or her ideas challenged in the market place of ideas and on an equal playing field.

    • Don’t sell Vermont’s School Choice tuitioning short. It’s unrestricted with the exception of choosing a parochial school. In high school, for example, parents receive a $15,300 voucher to send their children to any public or approved independent school they deem best for their children. They can even go out of state. If the parents choose another public school that charges more than the voucher, the State picks up the difference. But not so for independent schools.

      The problem is that not all districts qualify for School Choice tuitioning. And that’s a constitutional issue that’s going to be challenged sooner or later. But for those districts that have tuitioning, few other programs in any State, including Florida, can compare to the dollar amount available or the flexibility.

      With regard to ‘proven facts’, there are myriad studies showing the benefits of school choice autonomy.

      The Effects of Town Tuitioning in Vermont and Maine by Christopher Hammons
      https://edexcellence.net/…/the-effects-of-town-tuitioning-in-vermont-and-maine.html

      Increasing Student Success Through Instruction in Self-Determination
      An enormous amount of research shows the importance of self-determination (i.e., autonomy) for students in elementary school through college for enhancing learning and improving important post-school outcomes.

      https://www.apa.org/research/action/success.aspx

  6. Does it surprise anyone to hear the deafening silence of School Choice opponents these days? Not a word about why School Choice won’t work. Why is that?

    Because School Choice will work!…legally, locally, for parents and their children, for taxpayers, for the economy and even for teachers tired of being used as pawns between the never ending good-cop-bad-cop battles between union and the state education monopoly.

  7. The Brigham Decision and Act 60 have failed to provide Vermont public school children with equal education opportunities that the Vermont Supreme Court ruled was their constitutional right. The legislative, through Act 60, only exacerbated the inequities and it is now incumbent to demand the every child be provided with school choice to remediate their injury and insure that every child (and their parents) have the best possible chance for a superior educational outcome !

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