If California State Superintendent of Schools Tom Torlakson, was really interested in empowering parents and kids in failing public schools, he’d champion educational reform like the new Indiana School Choice Program signed into law today by Governor Mitch Daniels. The program awards low- and middle-income parents publicly funded scholarships for their childrens education that can be used at participating private schools. Since parents choose where to spend the stipend, just like Pell Grants, the program passes Constitutional muster with flying colors.
In addition to creating a scholarship program, the new legislation creates a tax deduction for parents with children in private school that can be used for education expenditures. It also expands Indianas existing tax-credit scholarship program by increasing the total amount of tax credits that can be claimed each year. Because these programs are also religiously neutral and put educational choice in the hands of parents, they too are constitutional.
Unfortunately, Torlakson and his handlers in the CTA will do everything possible to try and scuttle true education reform in California. Besides, everyone is now aware that the State Supe position is just a union pre-retirement reward for its closest termed-out legislative allies and not much is expected from whoever holds that office anymore.
Despite Torlakson’s stall tactics and fringe programs, the landscape for him and the CTA may yet change when 62% of California families learn they could qualify for a similar program as Indiana’s. Get out the clubs and show those parents a lesson, Tom, on how to protect union interests instead of parents, their children, and educators.