Thursday, January 31, 2013
On CSCOPE and School Choice
Cahnman's Musings spent the day at the Capitol, first at the Senate Education committee CSCOPE hearing, then at the Americans for Prosperity Texas School Choice event; the day highlighted both problems and solutions in Texas education.
The hearing was notable for the degree to which the CSCOPE representatives attempted to blow smoke up the committee's ass. According to the CSCOPE representatives, every concern the committee raised was old news. The CSCOPE reps tried to paint themselves as victims of numerous misunderstandings and mistakes, This led committee chair Dan Patrick to ask how many mistakes they need to make before we questioned their competence to do the job in the first place. The bottom line, however, is that the CSCOPE bureaucracy has no interest in addressing public concerns.
The reason we are confident we understand the CSCOPE bureaucracy's motive is the testimony of Charlie Garza. Garza, a former member of the state Board of Education, from CSCOPE back in November. They haven't delivered, which leaves us skeptical of their promises to the committee today.
At this point, we've been covering CSCOPE for several months. Today's hearings confirmed what we've suspected for awhile. The product is substandard, with questionable content, and the financial irregularities haven't been answered. We need to get to the bottom of this mess, but that's barely a start. CSCOPE is a symptom of the model of public education.
As long as large sums of money are flowing through unaccountable quasi-governmental bureaucracies, messes like CSCOPE are inevitable. That's where school choice comes in. School choice shifts how money flows, taking it away form bureaucrats and returning it to parents. Putting money in the hands of parents makes it easier to fix problems once they've been discovered. At a minimum, putting parents in charge of the money cuts out a lot of middlemen.
The challenge for school choice is political. The education establishment views school choice as a threat, and they'll fight it with everything they've got. That's why the legislature need to hear from five parents for every bureaucrat.
For education in Texas, both the problems and solutions are obvious; the open question is political will.