One Argument Not to Make About School Choice

I generally like to shy away from the school choice debate over here mainly because there are diverging opinions about it among our community. Even though I personally favor some school choice programs (and the idea that parents should have control) there are valid concerns about strings being attached to school choice programs.

A prime example was how Indiana’s voucher program pushed Common Core into private schools in the Hoosier State. So there are legitimate arguments against certain programs, and I think almost all of us can oppose any school choice efforts coming from the federal level.

The argument that Katherine Stewart at The New York Times makes isn’t one of those arguments, however. She said that school choice, aka “attacks” on public schools, harkens back to racism

She writes:

But the attacks on “government schools” have a much older, darker heritage. They have their roots in American slavery, Jim Crow-era segregation, anti-Catholic sentiment and a particular form of Christian fundamentalism — and those roots are still visible today.

I find it ironic that she addresses “anti-Catholic sentiment” when the biggest road blocks for school choice is Blaine Amendment language adopted by many states that actually comes from “anti-Catholic sentiment.”

David French at the National Review responds to Stewart’s piece.

Why do libertarians and Christians intentionally increasingly use the term “government schools” to describe public education? First, because it’s true. Public schools are government schools. Second, because it’s clarifying. Too many Americans are stuck in a time warp, believing that the local school is somehow “their” school. They don’t understand that public education is increasingly centralized — teaching a uniform curriculum, teaching a particular, secular set of values, and following priorities set in Washington, not by their local school board. The phrase is helpful for breaking through idealism and getting parents to analyze and understand the gritty reality of modern public education. The phrase works.

And so it must be squashed. And there’s no better way to discredit any modern idea than by tying it to a Confederate past. It’s certainly easier than addressing the core of the fundamental idea — that it’s better for America if more parents enjoy the educational choices that wealthy progressives take for granted.

I don’t agree with everything French says in his piece, but it stands to reason that we do not prop up straw man arguments to respond to a policy we do not like. Ultimately parents who want school choice like it because they want options and control over how their children are educated and it has nothing to do with race.

2 thoughts on “One Argument Not to Make About School Choice

  1. The CHOICE being offered up today will in the future give parents a choice in location but no choice in what their children will be taught. All these schemes (Charters, vouchers, ESAs) are designed to give the false illusion of choice. What the state and/or federal government funds they also control and make the rules. The goal is data collected on ALL students and they cannot have any outliers. They will eventually have ALL students in the system including home schools. They will make it so enticing for parents, just like the states were enticed with $$$ to sign up for national standards they never saw. Passing ESSA with the promise of state and local control. All of which turned out to be an illusion, a lie, a false narrative. Now we are supposed to believe the very people that pushed and lied to us about national standards, ESSA and massive data collection are concerned with giving parents CHOICE??? Sorry, they are concerned with complete control of our children’s hearts, minds and souls. They will eliminate elected representation (school boards) and parents will in the end have no choice and no voice.

  2. BTW…Shane we are organizing a national effort to repeal ESSA and restore FERPA. We are prepared to sue if necessary. We believe we have a strong case. So far we have 13 states on board. Time to get off of our knees and take real action. I would be glad to share the details with you if interested.

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