School Choice: An Anti-Bullying Tool

Richard Zeile, member of the Michigan State Board of Education wrote an op/ed for the Heritage Newspapers (serves Southeast Michigan) and he makes the argument that school choice should be seen as an anti-bullying tool.

So how do bullying and school choice relate? Bullying is often a social system problem.

Bullies find that their negative behavior works for them. Their peers are intimidated, or actually supportive, of their harassing an unpopular or isolated student.

And the victim of bullying is often socially isolated, having established or been labeled with an identity which he or she cannot escape (“Oh, you’re the one who exposed himself last year…”).

Anti-bullying programs rightly address the social world and peer pressure of the school, equipping students to deal with these issues.

But the child who is overwhelmed and thinking of killing him- or herself because there is no escape needs a more immediate and drastic escape. Such a child (and family) needs school choice.

Safety is one of the unacknowledged advantages of school choice, whether it is enrollment in a neighboring district or a nearby charter school.

When security is of paramount importance, the choice is often a private school (the time-honored choice of so many public officials, including recent presidents and governors).

School choice is not a cure-all for the bullying issue, but it may be an option for a family or a student.

I can’t say I’ve ever seen this angle on school choice, interesting argument.