Monday, February 8, 2016

Virginia House Bill 389: Just the Right Thing to Do

I've not made any commitment to read bills this year (because I'd hoped to have started the Frugal Gracious Living Challenge, by now, instead). Some bills are just too good not to post about, though. Thanks to Patricia Evans for calling my attention to Virginia House Bill #389. Here's the e-mail I just sent to Delegates Kilgore and O'Quinn regarding this bill. Full text:

Please count another vote in favor of funding school choice equally or near equally with public schools. While this idea leaves some problems to be resolved, it's fundamentally fair, and it can potentially make it easier for public schools to serve the majority without having to divert time and resources to a sometimes disruptive minority...many "borderline ADD" students are able to learn when material is presented precisely on their schedule, but become a nuisance when they're bored or confused by the material the majority are ready to learn.

As Delegate Kilgore may remember, Principal Oscar Peters was initially opposed to the opening of the Gate City Christian School, but he quickly became supportive after seeing firsthand how well certain problem children at Shoemaker Elementary were able to adapt to the Christian School's "PACE" system. (PACEs were workbooks through which students worked at their own individual "pace.") His subsequent referral of students to the Christian School served everyone well and was part of a (working-class) family-based system that kept tuition low and worked with needy parents.

Every town is not Gate City. Every family is not the Peters extended family. Many public school teachers and principals would not feel entitled to refer needy students to a private school, and not all private school teachers and headmasters would even accept these students if their parents couldn't pay tuition. Still, these students, too, may desperately need to learn math and reading on the unique schedule at which their brains develop.

David Peters, the accidental martyr of the school choice movement, would have wanted school choice to be equally as available to sailors' children in Norfolk as it is to landowners' children in Gate City.