City of choice

Los Angeles is becoming a city of choice, writes RiShawn Biddle on National Review Online. LA is handing control of 12 schools to private managers; another 186 schools are slated for private management over the next three years. The district authorized 30 new charter schools last year and will approve 50 more by the 2011–2012 school year.

An even more important win for choice advocates came earlier this month, when LAUSD enacted rules allowing parents to remove principals and teaching staffs in the district’s worst-performing schools. The district can lose control of a school altogether if 51 percent of parents petition for charter conversion. . . . A state law enacted last month as part of a series of reform measures will allow the district’s students to ditch LAUSD’s worst schools for better-performing ones in surrounding districts.

Los Angeles Unified has lots of kids from low-income immigrant families. Will poorly educated, non-English-speaking parents be able to use choice to improve neighborhood schools or find better options? We’ll see.

About Joanne


  1. We should ask another question: Will private managers make the schools any better? The new Education Sector report–particularly in its original incarnation–suggests that Charter Management organizations and the for-profit providers are already very overextended.

  2. Claus,

    If you let the free market flourish in the public education system, competent and highly qualified providers step up to take advantage of the increased profit potential. That’s like saying that one or two universities would be overextended because so many kids want to go to college. Well, of course they would be overextended, but new universities (and new innovative ways of providing education, like online universities such as University of Phoenix) step up to earn their wages. That is how the free market works. It is a feature, not a bug.

  3. Based on results, poorly educated, non-English speaking parents haven’t done anything thus far, other than let their kids drop out. So, why is their involvement the touch-stone? If LAUSD can lure back even the lower-middle class, it’s a miracle. Somethings seriously wrong when nannies and housekeeper send their kids to Catholic and other private schools.

  4. Don’t the government run schools also say they are overextended?

    In theory, a more fundamental contradiction is that public schools provide universal access to education and free markets are not about universal access. In practice, neither works precisely according to theory.

  5. They’re overextended and underfunded. It’s a permanent state of affairs.

    The explanation is pretty simple KateC. Poor parents, when they have an opportunity to choose between a crappy school and a good school inevitably choose the good school. When enough poor parents choose the good school the crappy schools ceases operation because it’s empty.

    Also, I’m a little confused by the poor parents who’ve done nothing but “let their kids drop out” and send them to Catholic and private schools. Could you clarify?