National School Choice Week is January 26 – February 1 [AUDIO]
National School Choice Week is January 26 through March 1, but in Montana, that choice is limited to public and private schools.
Joe Balyeat with the Montana Chapter of Americans for Prosperity, believe the free market would help to revolutionize the school system, the same way it has helped build the American business community, if it were allowed to work.
"We believe that competition produces the best quality product at the lowest possible price, and we believe those principles apply to the field of education, as well as to any other industry," Balyeat said. "Free markets and free enterprise have led to the greatest economic engine in history, the American economy. Americans are beginning to realize that free enterprise is far superior to government command and control."
Balyeat said the government-controlled school system has a monopoly over American education.
"Education unions love a monopoly, and so do what we call the 'edu-crats', government bureaucrats who benefit from that monopoly," Balyeat said. "They have all sorts of excuses why competition won't work in education, even though it works everywhere else in society. We would like to see education dollars, that come from the taxpayers, follow the student to the public or private school of their parents' choice. We believe that that open competition would empower parents and students, and that both public and private schools would respond to that competition by improving their product, which in this case is the education of our children."
Balyeat said Americans for Prosperity does not want to see an end to the public school system, but that it can be improved through competition.
"We're not advocating that the public schools become for-profit businesses," Balyeat said. "However, we are advocating that competition leads to a more streamlined endeavor, and it leads to a more quality product."
Balyeat said the current education monopoly also harms the educators themselves.
"This monopoly is hurting them, as well," Balyeat said. "It only benefits the union bosses and the bureaucrats who run the system and make it so top-heavy. Right now in Montana, we spend $10,000 per student per year. If you do that math per classroom size of between 25 and 30 students, that's a quarter of a million dollars for every single classroom in Montana. That money is certainly not going to the teachers. It's going to the bureaucrats and others who are dead weight on the system. A market-based education system would mean more dollars would flow to the teachers, and less to the bureaucracy. "
Currently, Montana is only one of ten states without a charter school law, and Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau campaigned on the promise that she would not allow charter schools in the state if elected.
Joe Balyeat with the Montana Chapter of Americans for Prosperity,