Monday, January 14, 2008

Something is Better Than Nothing

School choice has made way in one district in Las Vegas. The Clark County School District in Las Vegas will offer open enrollment starting in the 2008-2009 school year. The children will be allowed to attend any school in the region that has room for them. This policy was adapted because of the expectation it will increase competition amongst the schools, therefore improving campus programs.

This is a great first step for this district and stands to help the schools improve and allow each parent and child choice. Unfortunately, the district cannot afford to provide transportation to other schools. The open enrollment will be constricted by those who can provide their own transportation. While there is still choice, the level it can be used will be affected by this. However, the district has decided to still go through with the plan even though it is a smaller pilot program than once envisioned. According to this article in the Las Vegas Sun,

Bill Ouchi, a management professor at UCLA who has researched the roots of successful public school reform nationwide, agreed “I’d say a half a loaf is better than no loaf,” Ouchi said.

Other financially pinched districts have found creative ways to offer open enrollment, Ouchi said. One solution is to allow individual schools to control at least some of their transportation dollars and offer stipends to help students offset their costs.”

Kudos for this district to have the courage and the wisdom to enact this program, as well as not giving up in the face of a small setback. If only Missouri voters could see it the same way. Our districts could use some drastic improvements. The mess we are in is ridiculous. Lawsuits, unaccredited schools, failing students…these are all red flags to me!

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