[quote="Major_Tom, post:37, topic:201020"]
I am also very torn on the issue; the issues are many, and they are all interwoven, so I don't think that there is a "silver bullet".
Now if this grand voucher plan is enacted... what will happpen to them? They will still have indifferent parents, who will likely keep them in their local school, or the school where most of their friends are. One huge challenge will still remain in this post-voucher world. Reaching those kids, and mobilizing those parents.
My response would be (regarding the last portion of your post) is (I think you would agree) we cannot control outcomes, only conditions -- where there's a will to change the conditions of the school environment. It used to be that authority was assumed. No longer so. That change has migrated into explicit school policy, so that now, especially with HIPPA, FERPA, and a whole host of other individual protections -- some legitimate, some not -- a school's options are sometimes limited with respect to student behavior. In other cases, a school's options are simply not utilized by weak-willed administrators, because of the administrator's choice to submit to political pressures (litigious parents, poltiically correct community, socially-conscious school boards & superintendents, etc.)
Explicit and implicit restraints on authority are often extreme and serpentine now, in some regions. If and when voters and parents are willing to rise up to reclaim they own legitimate adult authority, conditions in the school sites can change. Sort of....;)
What also has to change is the school's agenda: Are we an academy or are we a branch of the Social Security Administration and the Social Welfare branch of county gov't? And are we also a branch of local law enforcement (doing their work for them, or commenting on their work, interfering with their work)? And are we also a child psychiatric ward, mainstreaming untreated PTSD students, as well as those on the autism spectrum that are not well-served by full-day mainstreaming, and whose presence dominates the agenda of the classroom? Public schools need to decide whether they can realistically be a Treatment Facility simultaneously with being an effective/efficient academy. So far, this has proved unworkable, and I will tell you that in my region, Treatment Facility is winning. Normal students are losing, and losing big-time.
Thirdly, we need to re-prioritize curriculum, back to traditional academics (updated to assimilate modern life/technology), and away from touchy/feely inappropriate curriculum, such as full classes for children in Anger Management, Crisis Intervention, personal values (often a cover for political agendas, btw, and I don't mean Catholic or other religious ones), and individual psychological journeys. Children in most public school districts are way behind in critical reading skills (not literal reading skills, as much), in writing, in historical knowledge, in math facility, and overall in functional literacy. We just don't have the luxury of psych-trips within the school day.
So, let's fast forward in tafan's fashion ;), and assume optimistically that we can narrow/limit agenda, and that there is a majority of parents willing to re-empower adult authority, and that curriculum is once again suitable, while modern. That will change the conditions of the classroom for everyone. Teaching will be far more efficient than it is now. And I think (Major) that's all we can expect. If schools provide those optimum conditions, we cannot control what parents do and do not contribute. Some students will continue to underachieve by personal choice, or because of compromised home conditions (including ineffective parenting or compromised parental literacy), some will be lost and maybe turned around later.