By Michael Hernandez
GLENDALE—The California School Choice Townhall on Saturday, Jan. 25th at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital featured five speakers celebrating National School Choice Week (last week of January) raising awareness of the different K-12 education options available to children and families. A program on Saturday, Feb. 1 at the same place will again focus on education options available.
Featured speakers included:
- Rebecca Friedrichs, author of Standing Up to Goliath: Battling State and National Teachers’ Unions for the Heart and Soul of our Kids and Country (which recounts real-life stories that expose state and national teachers’ unions as the money and muscle behind the degradation of America’s school and culture.);
- Vicki Alger, Policy Advisor of the Heartland Institute and author of the book Failure: The Federal Miseducation of America’s Children (which is about the 1979 creation of the U.S. Department of Education and its intrusion upon almost every area of K-12 and higher education);
- Larry Sand, President of the California Teachers Empowerment Network (TEN), a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on education issues;
- Gina Gleason, Executive Director of Real Impact at Calvary Chapel Chino Hills. Gina has made it here mission to inform parents and concerned Californians about the dangers of the new sex education curriculum; and
- Christina Laster, of the Southwest Riverside County National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Branch 1034.
Some California education stats taken from EdData.org:
- Over $80 billion in California tax dollars were spent this year on public schools;
- California taxpayers pay an average cost of $17,000 to educate a single K-12 student with the average cost of Private School tuition $14,000. In California, spending has doubled since 1970;
- An estimated 6.2 million K-12 students are enrolled in public schools including 630,000 in California charter schools with 500,00 students enrolled in Private Schools;
- Only 50 percent of California high school graduates from public schools meet the University of California and California State entrance requirements. Of the students who do graduate, 30 percent need remedial education and California students are ranked near the bottom.
The California School Choice initiative which will be a 2022 ballot initiative proposes an amendment to the California State Constitution which will establish an “Education Savings Account” for every California student (K-12). Each year the State will deposit into that account a sum equal to the average amount spent by the State on each school age child (at least $12,000 by Proposition 98):
- This money can be used to attend a school chosen by the parents. The child can remain at the current public school or attend an accredited charter, private or parochial school.
- Any money not used for tuition may be accumulated and used for other qualified educational expenses and/or saved and used for college and/or post-high school vocational training.
Voucher and tax-credit scholarship programs have existed since 1990 and 1997. Currently, there are about 50 programs in place helping more than 450,000 students in 27 states, Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico.
Education Savings Accounts (also known as 529 savings accounts) help parents pay for numerous approved education expenses besides tuition, such as tutoring, special education services, online courses, and testing fees. These can be offered through private investment firms, such as Fidelity or Vanguard but states can also offer their own plans, sometimes saving families from additional fees.
Arizona enacted the first program in 2011 and today about 19,000 students in six states (which also includes: Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Nevada) have access to Education Savings Accounts which are based on the principle that parents know best when it comes to their children’s education. Fully 78 percent of the 18 studies conducted over the past two decades show improvement in test scores for these students.
Speaking at the close of the event was Michael Alexander, President of California School Choice, and host of Radio Free Los Angeles on KRLA AM 870 Sundays at 8 p.m.
To host an informational event, make a financial contribution, join the email list or sign a petition for School Choice in California go to: California School Choice at [email protected] or call (626) 792-1772.
Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service; editor of the History Makers Report and founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor. He has worked 25 years as a middle school teacher in Monrovia and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email at [email protected].
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