What you should know about ‘school choice’

"In honor of the seventh annual National School Choice Week, here are some facts you should know about school choice in America."

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Bert Perry's picture

First, a side note; good to see Joe Carter doing well at Acton.  There are two quibbles I have with "school choice".  First, it ignores the fact that the best predictors of school success are "are Mom and Dad married?" and "do Mom and Dad read?".  Many blessed exceptions to that rule, but it's a rule nonetheless.  

Second, many forms of school choice, especially charters and vouchers, bring up the reality that "he who pays the piper calls the tune."  In other words, if the money flows through the government, government will get an extensive say in how kids are educated even though it's technically only returning our own money to us.  There is a degree to which this is unavoidable and even sometimes beneficial--limiting freedom to do wrong as it were--but we ought to treat this reality as the "fire" that it is; a useful servant but a dangerous master.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Andrew K's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

First, a side note; good to see Joe Carter doing well at Acton.  There are two quibbles I have with "school choice".  First, it ignores the fact that the best predictors of school success are "are Mom and Dad married?" and "do Mom and Dad read?".  

This is very true; but from an educational policy perspective, it's hard to say what can be done about this factor.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Bert Perry wrote:

Second, many forms of school choice, especially charters and vouchers, bring up the reality that "he who pays the piper calls the tune."  In other words, if the money flows through the government, government will get an extensive say in how kids are educated even though it's technically only returning our own money to us.  There is a degree to which this is unavoidable and even sometimes beneficial--limiting freedom to do wrong as it were--but we ought to treat this reality as the "fire" that it is; a useful servant but a dangerous master.

This is why I'm actually opposed to "vouchers" per se, and would prefer a tax-credit up to some amount on money spent to pay for education in the school of choice.  When I see district spending of 8000-12000 per student, I think it could actually be a win for the schools and students if some of these funds were rebated to parents not using the system.  Let's say the parents sending students elsewhere would get half in a tax credit, and the school gets half that they can now spend on the students still attending the school. The schools get more money per student, and the parents can now put the money toward school choice This isn't going to get those students opting out of public education all the way to elite private school tuition, but that's not going to happen anyway.

Probably wouldn't completely solve the problem of the piper's money, but the government wouldn't be directly paying the schools.

Dave Barnhart

Bert Perry's picture

Andrew K wrote:

Bert Perry wrote:

First, a side note; good to see Joe Carter doing well at Acton.  There are two quibbles I have with "school choice".  First, it ignores the fact that the best predictors of school success are "are Mom and Dad married?" and "do Mom and Dad read?".  

 

This is very true; but from an educational policy perspective, it's hard to say what can be done about this factor.

Bingo.  That wholeheartedly agreed and conceded, it's worth noting that there are a fair number of things in the law which favor having children without getting married over marriage.  Fix that, and let schools teach Walter Williams "How not to be poor", and slowly we'll see change.  This has a lot to do with what Joel Schaffer is mentioning on the other thread regarding John Piper's "How to live under an unqualified President". 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jim's picture

http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2012/07/milton_friedman_father_o...

Friedman frequently compared public schools to monopolies like Ma Bell and the U.S. Post Office.  Monopolies vaporize freedom and opportunity.  It is easy to see how standardized public schools vanquish personal freedom: students must attend schools assigned by ZIP code, parents who want another option must usually pay twice for it (once in taxes and again in tuition), students get treated like widgets on a factory line, and because someone other than parents is paying the bills, schools don't have to respond quickly and completely to parents' concerns.

Monopolies rely on force to control customers; if they didn't have that option, they'd lose those customers.  In a competitive environment, by contrast, a school would survive only by offering something good people want, attracting rather than forcing them through the doors.

The public-school monopoly also limits individual opportunity. People don't need to see school district comparisons like the Global Report Card to know that some public schools are just better than others.  Kids attending the rotten schools, or stuck with a rotten teacher, are just out of luck.  They usually have no opportunity to choose something better, which several economists have recently demonstrated leads to hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost income for these students and trillions in lost economic output for the nation.

These strangled students are disproportionately poor and minority.  No wonder huge majorities of these groups love school choice.

Friedman's vision of school choice for all is the most liberating, equitable education policy available.  His 1955 flash of voucher inspiration might be best described with a 1970s slogan: "Power to the people."