On School Choice

The nomination and approval of Besty “Eeek! A grizzly!” de Vos for Education Secretary has had me spending some time thinking about education and what I’d like to change about it. There are many things, but in the context of this particular person, I’m thinking about it when it comes to school choice.

School choice is, broadly, the concept that parents should have a choice as to where their child goes to school. In principle, this is a good thing. It means that parents can get their kid out of a public school they judge to be failing and put them into z private school that they judge to be better, and best of all, they can do this with the state paying some or part of this, due to school vouchers.

These vouchers provide a certain amount of money for less well-off parents so that they can afford private education for their kids. Again, in principle, this isn’t a bad thing.

But when someone does this, they’re taking money away from public schools that are generally poorly-funded to begin with. So if a school is already failing, they’re likely to fail even more, due to the fact that they’re now losing money.

It used to be that almost everyone sent their kids to public schools. There were private and religious schools, but either the wealthy sent their kids to them, or the less well-off used scholarships.

With most people’s kids attending public schools, this means that people had a stake in how those schools perform (which we all have anyhow, but you know what I mean). It meant that they were willing to do things to improve them, like volunteer or pay higher taxes.

Sadly, the Republicans continue their desire to privatize everything, including education, and so we get into school vouchers.

I am generally in favor of freedom of choice, and if you can afford, on your own or with scholarships, to send your child to a private school, go for it. But I’m severely against the government assisting you with doing so. If the school your kid is going to isn’t doing as well as you think it should, go find out why, and work to change it. Run for the local school board, even. It couldn’t hurt, and it might help.

But abandoning the idea of public education is stupid, wrong, and just generally terrible, and that’s where this is leading us.