“School Choice” is a giant honking scam

Crossposted from DemocraticDiva.com

school choice

As Arizona continues to show up at the bottom of rankings in education funding, defenders of the current policies continue to insist that we’re doing super duper well in School Choice!TM

School Choice!TM is predicated on the supposition that all parents – all of them! – have an endless abundance of time and resources to devote to picking the best possible school for each of their children, from a plethora of options including their local public, magnet public, brick-and-mortar charters, online charters, private schools, and homeschooling. This is not to mention all the money your family needs to pay for tuition, transportation, uniforms, whatever is required to get your child into that best school. If you don’t have that money, then School Choice!TM hasn’t failed you, you have failed it, obvs.

If that sounds like a full-time job and a half, and totally ridiculous, congratulations on being a normal person! But alas, our state is not run by normal people. Arizona is instead run by a rabid band of School Choice!TM zealots, as this Arizona Daily Sun editorial explains:

Does mainstream public education in Arizona have a viable future under the current governor and the Republican majority at the State House?

And if the answer is “No” – as some are beginning to believe – does education in general and even Arizona as a state have much of a future?…

…So far, though, there has been little debate because Republicans have rigged the school finance and accountability game so much that the outcome in favor of choice – that is, charter and private schools — is nearly predetermined. From classroom spending quotas to hiring only certified teachers, providing buses and making room for any local child who walks through the door, the exclusive mandates on mainstream public schools make it nearly certain they will have higher costs and more varied outcomes than charters and privates…

…The game is rigged not only by blind allegiance to individual choice over community but to a tax-cutting, trickle-down theory of economics that by definition means public disinvestment when revenues fail to keep up with rising costs. Even shifting state spending, such as from prisons to schools, is off the table, so wedded are Republicans to a choice mantra that is a code word for dismantling the mainstream public schools and their communitarian ethos.

…And where does all this lead public education and Arizona itself? The trend is already clear: Parental choice means academic tracking as early as the fifth grade. That might be justified in a mainstream public school, where the gifted and talented rub shoulders at lunchtime, recess and band practice with those students less well-off academically and financially. But at the charters and privates, which can cap enrollment and, at the latter, pick and choose among applicants, choice has meant a socio-demographic segregation that utterly frustrates the ideals of a democratically educated society.

I’m fairly certain that socio-demographic segregation is the whole point. And they want to do it with your and my tax dollars.

4 responses to ““School Choice” is a giant honking scam

  1. You are correct when you state that private and charter schools tend to draw the best students away from public schools. You lament that doing so diminishes the educational experience for all because better students no longer rub elbows with poorer performing students. That is a pervasive myth throughout the education industry. Better performing students are NOT enriched by sharing classrooms with poorer performing students; they are simply held back by them. Public schools are noted for going at the pace of the slowest student, disruptive students in the classrooms, bullying on the playgrounds, being forced to keep students in the classroom who don’t want to be there and spend their time making life miserable for everyone else, and a significant number of teachers who couldn’t pass a competency test to save their lives. Add to that the liberal, politically correct indoctrination that often goes on in the classroom, and it is no wonder that parents who can choose private or charter schools. They vote with their feet.

    For the record, that is not unique to Arizona. Public schools in every State where I have lived had the same problems. We had to sacrifice in order for our children to attend private schools, but it was worth it. They would not have gotten near as good an education in the public schools as they did in the private schools. My grandchildren are also attending private schools and are better off for it.

    I wish it wasn’t that way. I wish that public schools were like the ones I attended as I was growing up. But times changed and the emphasis moved from education and training to socialization and warehousing of students. Thank goodness there is an alternative.

    • Donna Gratehouse

      Parents can vote with their feet all they want. I don’t feel that I should be subsidizing it.

      • I agree with you. Nor do I think that parents who send their children to private schools or who choose to home school them should be required to subsidize public schools. Whether it is through tuition vouchers, state tax credits, or some other manner they should have their public school taxes refunded to them.

  2. It simplifies things and reduces the pain from slamming your head into the desk if you remember the Conservative Mantra: “It’s a Feature not a Bug!”