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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Choice and common culture

We need to find a way to have school choice and to teach our "shared inheritance" as Americans, writes Fordham's Checker Finn. He worries that we're pulling apart.

Dutch families choose between a variety of government-funded schools with different teaching approaches and religious affiliations.

"Most other modern industrial democracies manage to balance school choice on the one hand with national unity on the other," he writes. "The schools may be independently operated and diverse in various ways, but they generally adhere to a common core curriculum."


Other countries manage to "strike a balance between the wishes of parents and the civic imperatives of the state," says Ashley Berner, the director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy and author of No One Way To School, in an interview with Robert Pondiscio.


In most other countries, “public education” is "a broad term for the government’s funded commitment to educate the next generation," says Berner. "As but one example, the Netherlands funds 36 different kinds of schools on equal footing — Montessori, Catholic, Islamic, secular, among others." Thirty percent of students attend what we'd call "district schools."

10 Comments


Guest
Apr 19, 2023

"Carthago delenda est" To modernize Cato: The public school system must be destroyed.


It's past the point where it can be "evolved" or "transformed" into something sane. It has to be destroyed and rebuilt from the ground up. (Tired of hearing this yet? That's what Cato intended)

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Malcolm Kirkpatrick
Malcolm Kirkpatrick
Apr 19, 2023

The legal/institutional environment that many speakers of American English call "the public school system" features:

1. Compulsory school attendance (truancy) laws, applied to children

2. Compulsory school attendance (educational neglect) laws, applied to parents

3. Tax support of school

4. Direct government operation of some schools

5. Laws or policies in many US States which restrict parents' options for the use of the taxpayers' sub-adult education subsidy to facilities operated by government employees

6. State-mandated curricula

This legal/institutional environment originated in theocratic imperatives in the religious colonies of British North America (search "that old deluder, Satan") and, later, anti-Catholic bigotry (search "Bible riots"). This legal/institutional environment has become a make-work program for dues-paying members of the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel, a source…


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Malcolm Kirkpatrick
Malcolm Kirkpatrick
Apr 24, 2023
Replying to

Taxpayers in Australia, Belgium, Canada (five provinces), Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Estonia, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, the Republic of Korea, Macau, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Taiwan subsidize education options outside the system of government-operated schools.

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Guest
Apr 18, 2023

School choice is a mirage. It is usually a way for those families whose children are already in private schools to get a subsidy from the government. And many of those so-called social conservatives like Glenn Youngkin still send their children to elite, left-leaning, college prep schools.

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Guest
Apr 20, 2023
Replying to

Charter schools are very different than the school choice programs in states like Arizona or Florida that give money to families who want to send their children to private schools. And even in Detroit or DC, the parents cannot use school choice to cross county or state lines.

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Guest
Apr 18, 2023

This is not possible where the public schools are controlled, directly or via accreditation, by enemies of the community's standards.


In all areas of mixed nationality, the school is a political prize of the highest importance. It cannot be deprived of its political character as long as it remains a public and compulsory institution. --Mises, Ludwig von (1927). Liberalism

In areas of less diversity, then the dominant culture can, with support of parents, impose the governing narrative. America avoided this for near two centuries with the Melting Pot, but the driving narrative from government managers now is division and conflict in the name of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity.

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