We hope you share our outrage that far too many schools today all around our country are failing our children! And, equally regretfully, most of those schools are located in lower-economic communities that are frequently populated by minorities and immigrants, which directly can keep many of those children from reaching their true potentials. So we view these results as economic and not racial. Nevertheless, and fortunately, these results are unnecessary, as it has been shown time and again that where parents have been empowered to choose where their government money is spent for the education of their children they are demanding excellence – and they are receiving it!
The answer is not so much in spending more money on schools, which seems today to be most often the governmental approach. Instead the answer is to demand excellence. This means, among other things, that teachers who teach well should be rewarded and those who cannot or do not should be moved on to other occupations.
How can this happen? Give school choice to the parents. Today we receive quality cell phones, computers and automobiles at reasonable prices due to choice and competition. Thus if one manufacturer fails to produce quality products for reasonable prices, customers will purchase those products from someone else. It’s that simple, provide quality at competitive prices or go out of business! The same standards should apply to the critically important 'product' of education! As a matter of reality, if a school starts losing its 'customers,' one of two things will happen: Either it will get better – to which we all should say 'Good!' – or it will go out of business and be replaced by another 'provider' that will provide a better product, to which all of us should also say 'Good!'
So why are we sending this open letter to you? Each of your fine organizations is well known for representing individuals who often do not have the power effectively to stand up for themselves, again often people of color and other minorities. So we are completely convinced that your organizations should be publicly championing the excellence that school choice will bring to the schools of those constituents!
This could be obtained in numbers of ways under the general rubric of 'school choice.' For example, one approach which is popularly known as Educational Savings Accounts is being utilized in states like Arizona. In that approach, parents of children who either have special needs or who are forced to attend poorly-rated schools are able to access some of the state’s educational funds to enroll their children in private, military, vocational or even religious schools. (Of particular note, in district schools the better teachers are smart enough to realize where the highest pay is, which is in administration. So many of the best teachers gravitate out of the classrooms to become administrators. In addition, most district schools are top-heavy with administration. Private schools almost never have those problems.)
Dr. Milton Friedman once aptly stated that we should judge our programs by their results, and not their good intentions. Following that advice would result in a positive revolution in education! Certainly, many district schools mean well but, by any reasonable assessment, would be seen as failing our children. And your organizations mostly are standing by and watching it happen. Why are you not making your voices heard in favor of school choice? The evidence is all around us, school choice is working in places like Milwaukee, Indiana, Florida, Arizona and elsewhere. So we are publicly requesting either that you help those parents whose children are being saddled with failure, or publicly explain why you are not. Sincerely yours,
Judge James P. Gray (Ret.) Superior Court of Orange County, California 2012 Libertarian Candidate for Vice President
This article is a reprint of an original open letter published on Judge Jim Gray's website. The views expressed in it are those of the author and not necessarily the views of the Libertarian Party of Orange County.
James P. Gray is a retired judge of the Orange County Superior Court, and presently works as a private mediator and arbitrator for ADR Services, Inc. He was also the 2012 vice presidential nominee for the Libertarian Party, and can be contacted at JimPGray@sbcglobal.net, or through his website at www.JudgeJimGray.com.