School choice and public schools

Learning Matters asks: Are charter schools and vouchers a good thing for American public schools?

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  1. Sure. Examine the mirror image of the question: Are schools in which parents are irrelevant a good thing for American public education.

  2. Stacy in NJ says:

    It is ironic to see public school administrators and politicians complain about the negative consequences their institutions experience because of choice. Charters and vouchers wouldn’t exist, wouldn’t have become necessary, if public education as it was structured was capable of self-reform, and we know it’s not capable because we attempted it repeatedly. Those same administrators and politicians are in part responsible for the paralysis of those institutions. They set the priorities and policies that led to the failure. Now they’re responding to new circumstances by complaining that those circumstances are unfair. I’d have more appreciation for their argument if their concept of “fairness” had placed a higher priority on quality education for all previously instead of “balancing” those needs with self-interest.

    • Too simplistic, Stacy.

      You make valid general criticisms, but schools are often facing challenges that are centered on factors outside of the home. Thus, charters and choice allow motivated students and families to seek better options. And, the neighborhood kids are left with greater challenges of the least connected families and least motivated kids. Certainly, they shouldn’t give up and accept the status quo – as many do. But, they can’t always fix the problem just by trying harder.

      I would argue that unless you’ve worked in urban schools for any length of time, you might oversimplify the solution.

  3. The simple answer for this – and any education reform – is whatever works. If the charters produce results, they should progress. If the vouchers improve schools, carry on. However, states should be more prudent in passing extensive legislation. For, the starting point for any shift is simply what Colorado has – open enrollment. The extensive call for vouchers and more charters isn’t necessary as long as kids have the freedom to simply enroll in any public school.

    Start with open enrollment, observe results, and go from there.

    • Not so simple a question if you leave off who’s asking the question.

      • You’re so negative – and not remotely helpful.

        • No, I’m a little too helpful, by pealing away your self-serving excuses for an institution that long ago discarded its reason for existence in favor of rather more convenient, and lucrative, excuses for failure which is why you have to resort to personal attacks.

          As long as the district exists the district will attempt to assert control. So your “open enrollment” policy will inevitably be set about with “reasonable” restrictions on the choices parents have to exercise.

          And they will be reasonable restrictions. If you accept that public education requires tens of thousands of governmental units set up along arbitrary geographical lines. But one of the least appreciated aspects of charters is that they put the lie to the oft repeated “local control” mantra. The only “local control” that’s necessary, and the only local control that’ll compel improvement in the schools, is parental control.

          That helpful enough for you?

          • No, you’re critical with no evidence and no experience. The Greeks called it ethos – and you’ve yet to establish any.

          • Thank you. Thank you. I accept the compliment implicit in your lack of a substantive reply.

            Of course I’ve got bags of evidence. The existence of charters is all the evidence I need inasmuch as every last kid going to a charter goes there only because their parents want them to go there. If charters weren’t safer or educationally better, or both, parents wouldn’t send their kids to them. They’re voting with their children’s feet and I’d say that’s a rather more credible form of evidence then anything I’ve read coming from the defenders of the status quo.

            And as for your experience, feel free to describe how highly that’s valued by the organization that employs you.

  4. If education reform were working you wouldn’t see so much dissatisfaction with the current model. Administrators and teachers don’t like choice because it challenges the status quo. It requires results instead if just turning on the perpetual excuse machine.