Ratliff Turns His Back on over 315,000 Texas Students

March 12, 2013

Sometimes opponents of freedom issues open their mouth and reveal their true intent.

SBOE member Thomas Ratliff, a Mt. Pleasant Republican, scoffed at the notion that Texas youngsters are trapped in struggling schools simply because of where they live. “They say they want to give them choices, they even called them trapped,” Ratliff said of Patrick and others’ assessments of students across Texas.  “I have news for you, they’re not trapped,” Ratliff continued. “They do have choices and they choose to stay in their local public schools.”

That was reported in an Associated Press article (click here)

This elected official appears to be wrong on two points.

First, kids living in poor zip codes have no choices.  In Texas today, 315,000 students are trapped in over 500 failing schools.   Just what ARE the choices those parents and students have, Mr. Ratliff?  Chances are good they are living in poor areas because they can’t afford the suburbs like you and your friends.  Chances are good they aren’t mobile and can’t relocate to a better school district like you and your friends.  Chances are good they also don’t have the resources to either home school or to send their kids to private schools.  Chances are good they may be on a waiting list to get into a charter school, but with that wait list at over 101,000 – chances are good they may not even bother to sign up.  Sadly, because our current system assigns schools based on zip codes, these kids don’t have choices.  And by virtue of that, their chances to succeed are not good.  If that doesn’t define trapped, I don’t know what does.  Many call this the civil rights issue of our generation.  Is that your intent, Mr. Ratliff?

Second, Republicans voted very clearly – 83% — their support for education dollars following the child to the school the parents think their child has the greatest opportunity to succeed – public or private.  That, Mr. Ratliff, is school choice.  Chances are good that Democrats would have voted to support school choice too, but they were not given that opportunity.

So just like many kids in schools today, there is little opportunity for choice.  Only those with money have choice today.

Those of us who support school choice have one very simple question to ask of Mr. Ratliff.  Why oppose school choice if you believe that parents are content with their kids’ public schools?  Do you fear a mass exodus should parents have the right to choose?  Opposition to parental choice (and support for a system in which government assigns kids to schools based solely on their zip code) reveals the lack of confidence the education bureaucrats have in the produce they are delivering.  Why else would they fight parents choosing their kids schools?

Read more about the school districts lobbying to maintain their monopoly and Mr. Ratliff’s comments here: http://www.statesman.com/ap/ap/education/thousands-of-teachers-staff-to-rally-in-austin/nWnmb/

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