August 1 2014
Vicki E. Alger
Earlier this Week California Gov. Jerry Brown was in Mexico City “urging politicians…to ‘heed the religious call … to welcome the stranger’ in addressing the [immigration] crisis,” according to the Sacramento Bee. Gov. Brown continued by saying:
These are children, and many of them have relatives that are in California and other parts of the United States who are working, contributing to the well-being of people in the United States…So given the principle of family values and family reconciliation, I want to give utmost consideration to what is in the best interest of those children, not what is in the best interest of politicians who might want to exploit this particular topic.
Gov. Brown should practice what he preaches about immigration and apply those lessons to the closed-border education policy that prevails in his own state.
It is long-standing policy to restrict children’s access to public schools based on where their parents can afford to live—and good luck with that in the high-cost Golden State (see here, here, and here).
What’s more, not a single private school parental choice program has ever been passed out of the California legislature—ever—precisely because the interests of politicians and their allies (most notably the state’s largest teachers union, the California Teachers Association) have been trumping those of children for decades.
If Gov. Brown is truly serious about heeding the religious call he should be advocating for one of the most innovative and equitable parental choice options around: educational savings accounts, or ESAs.
Back in 2011 Arizona became the first state to enact such a program. Earlier this year, Florida became the second. Under these programs parents who do not prefer to send their children to traditional public schools simply inform their state education agency and promise not to enroll their children in public schools for the upcoming school year. The state then deposits 90 percent of what it would have spent into ESAs designated for those children instead.
With those funds parents can pay for private school tuition, online courses, homeschool curricula, tutoring or special therapies, and save for future education expenses such as college.
It’s time for Gov. Brown to start rethinking his own religion when it comes to faith-based and other education options.
And before he starts preaching abroad, maybe Gov. Brown should focus on converting his friends at home about opening up the now-closed school borders throughout California.