Alan Bonsteel, MD, is the president and founder of California Parents for Educational Choice (CPEC). He created the organization (www.cpeconline.org) in 1999 to focus attention on the need for reform in the educational system and that publicly funded choice was the best option. He has consistently supported the family’s right to choose the appropriate education for its children. In his professional life, he divides his time between family practice and urgent care medicine.
CPEC was the first organization to reveal that California’s high school dropout rate was 33%, not 3% as the Department of Education had been reporting. The findings were later duplicated by both the Harvard Civil Rights Project and the Manhattan Institute. This led directly to dramatic changes in reporting dropout statistics in California and elsewhere.
CPEC and Alan also led the way on reform in reporting education spending. The National Center for Educational Statistics now reports data that includes bond and debt payments as well as more accurately reflecting all the funding going to public schools. This is directly attributable to CPEC’s analysis.
Early on, Alan worked with Jack Coons and Steve Sugarman, 1979-1982, on the first serious effort to qualify school choice for the ballot in the nation. During medical school at Dartmouth University and residency at McGill School of Medicine in Montreal, he spent the summers often in Europe studying K-12 voucher systems in Denmark, Finland, and Holland, and during the 1990′s did the same in Germany, France, and Spain.
He was Campaign Vice Chairman of Parents for Educational Choice during the Prop. 174 battle for school choice in 1993 and was that campaign’s most widely published author, reaching about 12 million readers through the editorial pages of California’s newspapers.
His work culminated in his 1997 book, A Choice for Our Children-Curing the Crisis in America’s Schools, with Institute for Contemporary Studies. In addition, Alan publishes frequent opinion editorials on a wide range of educational issues in such papers as the San Francisco Chronicle, The Sacramento Bee, the Orange County Register, and Los Angeles Times.