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Jan 23, 2017
Presented by
Rebecca Friedrichs

Can every child receive a good education? With school choice and competition, yes. The problem? Powerful teachers unions oppose school choice. Rebecca Friedrichs, a public school teacher who took her case against the teachers union all the way to the Supreme Court, explains why school choice is the right choice.

Take the pledge for school choice! www.schoolchoicenow.com

When schools compete, parents have more educational options, and students benefit. So why do teachers’ unions oppose school choice?

  • Just as competition improves businesses, it improves schools too. School choice gives families without many educational options an entirely new set of options by making charter schools and private schools affordable, and making public schools accountable. Despite these obvious benefits, teachers’ unions oppose competition, because it would force bad schools and bad teachers to improve.View Source
  • According to researchers at the University of Arkansas – in the most comprehensive study done to date — students in school choice programs saw their reading and math scores improve by 27 percent and 15 percent respectively.View Source
  • The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program showed statistically significant evidence that voucher programs “had a positive effect on a student’s likelihood of graduating from high school and enrolling and persisting in a 4-year college.”View Source
  • Related reading: The School Choice Journey – Patrick Wolf, T. StewartView Source
  • Related reading: Why America Needs School Choice – Jay GreeneView Source
  • Related reading: Education Myths – Jay GreeneView Source
  • Related reading: A Choice for Our Children – Milton Friedman et al.View Source

Just as competition and choice improves businesses, it improves schools too. That’s why school choice works. 

  • Just as competition improves businesses, it improves schools too. School choice gives families without many educational options an entirely new set of options by making charter schools and private schools affordable, and making public schools accountable. Despite these obvious benefits, teachers’ unions oppose competition, because it would force bad schools and bad teachers to improve.View Source
  • When faced with competition with other schools due to pro-school choice policies, Florida’s low-performing schools improved over 9 points in math and over 10 points in reading.View Source
  • According to researchers at the University of Arkansas – in the most comprehensive study done to date — students in school choice programs saw their reading and math scores improve by 27 percent and 15 percent respectively.View Source
  • Related reading: The School Choice Journey – Patrick Wolf, T. StewartView Source
  • Related reading: Why America Needs School Choice – Jay GreeneView Source
  • Related reading: Education Myths – Jay GreeneView Source
  • Related reading: A Choice for Our Children – Milton Friedman et al.View Source

Education is a right, and that’s why no child should be stuck in a failing public school.

  • Just as competition improves businesses, it improves schools too. School choice gives families without many educational options an entirely new set of options by making charter schools and private schools affordable, and making public schools accountable. Despite these obvious benefits, teachers’ unions oppose competition, because it would force bad schools and bad teachers to improve.View Source
  • According to researchers at the University of Arkansas – in the most comprehensive study done to date — students in school choice programs saw their reading and math scores improve by 27 percent and 15 percent respectively.View Source
  • The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program showed statistically significant evidence that voucher programs “had a positive effect on a student’s likelihood of graduating from high school and enrolling and persisting in a 4-year college.”View Source
  • Related reading: The School Choice Journey – Patrick Wolf, T. StewartView Source
  • Related reading: Why America Needs School Choice – Jay GreeneView Source
  • Related reading: Education Myths – Jay GreeneView Source
  • Related reading: A Choice for Our Children – Milton Friedman et al.View Source

Study after study confirms the obvious: School choice produces better educational outcomes for students. 

  • According to researchers at the University of Arkansas – in the most comprehensive study done to date — students in school choice programs saw their reading and math scores improve by 27 percent and 15 percent respectively.View Source
  • The Urban Charter School Study found that the typical student in an urban charter school receives the equivalent of 40 additional days of learning growth in math and 28 days of additional growth in reading compared to their matched peers in public school.View Source
  • When faced with competition with other schools due to pro-school choice policies, Florida’s low-performing schools improved over 9 points in math and over 10 points in reading.View Source
  • The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program showed statistically significant evidence that voucher programs “had a positive effect on a student’s likelihood of graduating from high school and enrolling and persisting in a 4-year college.”View Source
  • Related reading: The School Choice Journey – Patrick Wolf, T. StewartView Source
  • Related reading: Why America Needs School Choice – Jay GreeneView Source
  • Related reading: Education Myths – Jay GreeneView Source
  • Related reading: A Choice for Our Children – Milton Friedman et al.View Source

Students in school choice programs have seen their reading and math scores improve by 27 percent and 15 percent respectively.   

  • According to researchers at the University of Arkansas – in the most comprehensive study done to date — students in school choice programs saw their reading and math scores improve by 27 percent and 15 percent respectively.View Source
  • The Urban Charter School Study found that the typical student in an urban charter school receives the equivalent of 40 additional days of learning growth in math and 28 days of additional growth in reading compared to their matched peers in public school.View Source
  • When faced with competition with other schools due to pro-school choice policies, Florida’s low-performing schools improved over 9 points in math and over 10 points in reading.View Source
  • The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program showed statistically significant evidence that voucher programs “had a positive effect on a student’s likelihood of graduating from high school and enrolling and persisting in a 4-year college.”View Source
  • Related reading: The School Choice Journey – Patrick Wolf, T. StewartView Source
  • Related reading: Why America Needs School Choice – Jay GreeneView Source
  • Related reading: Education Myths – Jay GreeneView Source
  • Related reading: A Choice for Our Children – Milton Friedman et al.View Source

Why are charter schools and vouchers spreading around the nation? Because competition in education has proven to help students.

  • Charter schools, which began in Minnesota in 1991, have expanded to 43 other states and now serve 2.9 children in over 6,700 school settings.View Source
  • The Urban Charter School Study found that the typical student in an urban charter school receives the equivalent of 40 additional days of learning growth in math and 28 days of additional growth in reading compared to their matched peers in public school.View Source
  • According to researchers at the University of Arkansas – in the most comprehensive study done to date — students in school choice programs saw their reading and math scores improve by 27 percent and 15 percent respectively.View Source
  • Related reading: The School Choice Journey – Patrick Wolf, T. StewartView Source
  • Related reading: Why America Needs School Choice – Jay GreeneView Source
  • Related reading: Education Myths – Jay GreeneView Source
  • Related reading: A Choice for Our Children – Milton Friedman et al.View Source

Studies show spending more on education does not guarantee better education. So why do teachers’ unions always insist on spending more?

  • A 2014 analysis of states’ education spending and outcomes concluded that “pouring money into education by no means guarantees success.” Examples: the students in Delaware and Alaska, two of the nation’s top spenders on education, had below-average NAEP scores.View Source
  • Despite a massive education budget, in 2013, California ranked 47th in the nation in reading and math for 4th graders and 45th in reading and math for 8th graders. In 2015, Education Week ranked California public schools overall as 42nd in the nation.View Source
  • California spends over $70 billion—over 20 percent of its entire budget—on education.View Source
  • Related reading: The School Choice Journey – Patrick Wolf, T. StewartView Source
  • Related reading: Why America Needs School Choice – Jay GreeneView Source
  • Related reading: Education Myths – Jay GreeneView Source
  • Related reading: A Choice for Our Children – Milton Friedman et al.View Source

California spends over $70 billion on public education, yet its public schools rank 42nd nationally. Pathetic.

  • Despite a massive education budget, in 2013, California ranked 47th in the nation in reading and math for 4th graders and 45th in reading and math for 8th graders. In 2015, Education Week ranked California public schools overall as 42nd in the nation.View Source
  • California spends over $70 billion—over 20 percent of its entire budget—on education.View Source
  • A 2014 analysis of states’ education spending and outcomes concluded that “pouring money into education by no means guarantees success.” Examples: the students in Delaware and Alaska, two of the nation’s top spenders on education, had below-average NAEP scoresView Source
  • Related reading: The School Choice Journey – Patrick Wolf, T. StewartView Source
  • Related reading: Why America Needs School Choice – Jay GreeneView Source
  • Related reading: Education Myths – Jay GreeneView Source
  • Related reading: A Choice for Our Children – Milton Friedman et al.View Source

Since 1970, public school attendance in the US has risen by just 5%, while public school employment has risen 95%. Why? Teachers unions. 

  • The National Center for Education Statistics reports that since 1970, public school attendance in the U.S. has gone up by just five percent, while public school employment has gone up 95 percent. Clearly, public school employment, pushed by teachers’ unions and administrators, is grossly out of whack with enrollment.View Source
  • Related reading: The School Choice Journey – Patrick Wolf, T. StewartView Source
  • Related reading: Why America Needs School Choice – Jay GreeneView Source
  • Related reading: Education Myths – Jay GreeneView Source
  • Related reading: A Choice for Our Children – Milton Friedman et al.View Source

Public school employment grows much faster than public school attendance, and most new employees are administrators—not teachers.

  • The National Center for Education Statistics reports that since 1970, public school attendance in the U.S. has gone up by just five percent, while public school employment has gone up 95 percent. Clearly, public school employment, pushed by teachers’ unions and administrators, is grossly out of whack with enrollment.View Source
  • Related reading: The School Choice Journey – Patrick Wolf, T. StewartView Source
  • Related reading: Why America Needs School Choice – Jay GreeneView Source
  • Related reading: Education Myths – Jay GreeneView Source
  • Related reading: A Choice for Our Children – Milton Friedman et al.View Source

Teachers unions oppose accountability and performance-based employment. Why? Because such standards would threaten their power.

  • Related reading: The School Choice Journey – Patrick Wolf, T. StewartView Source
  • Related reading: Why America Needs School Choice – Jay GreeneView Source
  • Related reading: Education Myths – Jay GreeneView Source
  • Related reading: A Choice for Our Children – Milton Friedman et al.View Source

School voucher programs increase graduation rates & college attendance rates. So why do teachers unions & Democrats oppose vouchers?

  • The Milwaukee Parental Choice Program showed statistically significant evidence that voucher programs “had a positive effect on a student’s likelihood of graduating from high school and enrolling and persisting in a 4-year college.”View Source
  • According to researchers at the University of Arkansas – in the most comprehensive study done to date — students in school choice programs saw their reading and math scores improve by 27 percent and 15 percent respectively.View Source
  • The Urban Charter School Study found that the typical student in an urban charter school receives the equivalent of 40 additional days of learning growth in math and 28 days of additional growth in reading compared to their matched peers in public school.View Source
  • When faced with competition with other schools due to pro-school choice policies, Florida’s low-performing schools improved over 9 points in math and over 10 points in reading.View Source
  • Related reading: The School Choice Journey – Patrick Wolf, T. StewartView Source
  • Related reading: Why America Needs School Choice – Jay GreeneView Source
  • Related reading: Education Myths – Jay GreeneView Source
  • Related reading: A Choice for Our Children – Milton Friedman et al.View Source

Spending on education doesn’t equal better performance. Why? Too much money goes to teachers’ unions & administrators—not students.

  • A 2014 analysis of states’ education spending and outcomes concluded that “pouring money into education by no means guarantees success.” Examples: the students in Delaware and Alaska, two of the nation’s top spenders on education, had below-average NAEP scores.View Source
  • Despite a massive education budget, in 2013, California ranked 47th in the nation in reading and math for 4th graders and 45th in reading and math for 8th graders. In 2015, Education Week ranked California public schools overall as 42nd in the nation.View Source
  • California spends over $70 billion—over 20 percent of its entire budget—on education.View Source
  • Related reading: The School Choice Journey – Patrick Wolf, T. StewartView Source
  • Related reading: Why America Needs School Choice – Jay GreeneView Source
  • Related reading: Education Myths – Jay GreeneView Source
  • Related reading: A Choice for Our Children – Milton Friedman et al.View Source

Teachers’ unions don’t like school choice because it means less money and less power for them.

  • Teachers’ unions are more concerned about protecting fellow teachers and promoting the influence of the union than protecting students, as demonstrated by their opposition to school choice, as well as their promotion of education-hampering policies.View Source
  • According to researchers at the University of Arkansas – in the most comprehensive study done to date — students in school choice programs saw their reading and math scores improve by 27 percent and 15 percent respectively.View Source
  • Related reading: The School Choice Journey – Patrick Wolf, T. StewartView Source
  • Related reading: Why America Needs School Choice – Jay GreeneView Source
  • Related reading: Education Myths – Jay GreeneView Source
  • Related reading: A Choice for Our Children – Milton Friedman et al.View Source

What if schools had to compete for students in the same way that businesses have to compete for customers? Would schools get better or worse?

There’s no need to guess.

In almost every state and city where there is competition today, educational outcomes improve – often dramatically. This competition is called school choice, and many states and cities now embrace it.

With the old model, under which most American children still live, the government – not the parent – decides which school children will attend.

Now, here’s how school choice works:

The money follows the student. Every child receives funding that their parents can direct to the school of their choice – public, private, charter or even homeschool.

According to researchers at the University of Arkansas – in the most comprehensive study done to date -- students in school choice programs saw their reading and math scores improve by 27 percent and 15 percent, respectively.  

Sounds like something we should get behind, doesn’t it?  But for millions of families in my home state of California and in many others, school choice is not a choice.

And there’s one reason why: teachers’ unions.

I’ve been a teacher for 28 years, and served as a leader in a local affiliate of the California Teachers Association -- so I’ve seen this problem from the inside. Teachers in California public schools are coerced to pay dues to the teachers’ unions. True, we cannot be forced to join, but we are forced to pay the union. Their fees are mandatory - and expensive. In California alone, the unions raise over 300 million dollars every year. What do the unions do with all that money? They lobby the government for more money - more money for public education. That might sound good, but it’s really just a smoke screen.

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that since 1970, public school attendance in the U.S. has gone up by just five percent, while public school employment has gone up 95 percent!

More public school employment means more dues for the unions. But does it mean better schools? Certainly not in California, which ranks 45th in the nation in reading and math despite spending over 55 billion dollars a year on education. That’s over 52% of the state’s total budget. Yet rarely is anyone held accountable for these dismal results. I’ve personally seen excellent, new teachers lose their jobs while incompetent, and even abusive, veteran teachers keep theirs because of the unions’ infamous “last in, first out” layoff and tenure rules.

For these reasons and more, parents almost always prefer school choice when allowed to choose. This is obviously true for wealthy parents who can afford to send their children to any school they want, but it’s equally true for middle class and poor parents when they have a choice. And here’s the real giveaway: public school teachers are less likely to send their children to public schools when given the choice.

Why are most school choice options better? Because teachers at these schools are free from the unions’ stifling work rules. In short, they’re free to teach. And the administrators at these schools are also free to reward good teachers and fire bad ones. The teachers’ unions don’t like school choice because it means less money and less power for them. That’s why they’ll say anything, do anything, and spend any amount to stop it – whether in the halls of the legislature, on the campaign trail backing pro-union candidates, or on TV with sweet-sounding commercials.

During my public school teaching career, I have worked alongside many other teachers to reform the unions from within. Only when we realized that this wasn’t possible did we take our case to a higher power – literally:  All the way to the United States Supreme Court. The argument behind our lawsuit, Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, was simple: Teachers should be able to decide for themselves - without fear or coercion - whether or not to fund or join a union. Unfortunately, in a split 4-4 decision, we lost.

But I haven’t lost hope, because the unions and the politicians do not ultimately have the power. We do. If you believe, like me and millions of others, that parents - not the government - should decide where their children go to school, and that competition will make all schools better, then join the school choice movement.

We can have good schools for all our children. We just have to make the choice – for choice.

I’m Rebecca Friedrichs, mother and California public school teacher, for Prager University.

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