Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

School Choice, revisited

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As we get closer to a negotiated settlement on school choice and lifting the caps, the advocates of public education who wish to abolish school choice altogether are coming out.

While the governor’s stance on school choice has been despicable and intellectually dishonest, many of those he is catering to at least are honest enough to admit they would like to end school choice.

But are they intellectually honest enough to admit that they are more concerned with protecting institutions, public schools and teachers unions, than they are about educating children?

One correspondent here has laid out what I think are the basic arguments against school choice they’re willing to offer.

He writes, “Money used for vouchers to send Milwaukee students to private schools is money that could have been put towards the public school system”

The question is, why is this an issue? Shouldn’t the education dollar follow the student? And if there’s a more efficient means of educating the student (our presumed goal) then shouldn’t we put our investment there?

And that’s the beauty of the concept of school choice. The education dollar follows the student, and the parent (whom we trust would know best) gets to choose what is the best method for educating that child.

Even better for the state, the choice school is often more efficient in educating the child, and therefore the state actually achieves a cost reduction while turning out a better product.

But what about the children not in the program, we’re asked?

Our correspondent sneers at the concept that competition from the private sector improves education in the public sector, but that’s exactly what the current Milwaukee Public Schools superintendent believes.

Aside from that, let’s look at the bigger picture. If we have a successful program (school choice) and an unsuccessful program (MPS) then shouldn’t we be doing what we can to expand the successful program?

Right now MPS graduates less than a third of the African American students enrolled in their system. That’s a 67% failure rate. Can you imagine this level of failure being tolerated anywhere else in society? Could you imagine a hospital having that kind of failure rate without it becoming a major scandal?

In the private sector, the shut down would be near immediate. Investors would be demanding corporate managers go to prison for such a mismanagement of their trust.

Yet this level of failure is not only tolerated but protected in the one area where we should place a high priority: the education of our children.

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