School Choice: Now You See It Now You Don’t


So, the United States isn’t doing so well educating our kids:

Scores from the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment to be released Tuesday show 15-year-old students in the U.S. performing about average in reading and science, and below average in math. Out of 34 countries, the U.S. ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math.

And, on top of delivering horrible results, we’re spending more money than ever while watching our performance lag:

…with the exception of Switzerland, the United States spends more than any other country on education, an average of $91,700 per student between the ages of six and fifteen.

That’s not only more than other countries spend but it is also more than better achieving countries spend – the United States spends a third more than Finland, a country that consistently ranks near the top in science, reading, and math testing.

This isn’t new.  We’ve known this for a long time now.  And, just as long as we’ve been watching spending go up and achievement go down, we’ve been debating how to change one or both of those trajectories.  And of all those debates, few have been more contentious than all the others.  That subject?  That topic?

Choice.

That’s right; choice.  As in school choice.  The concept of being able to determine where you wanna go to school and where you don’t.  From where I’m sitting, the Democrat position has always been one of undying support for the institution of the public education system.  And THAT system is anything BUT choice.  You have no choice but to support it financially.  Heck, even if you don’t have kids in the system you are expected to contribute through the tax system, mostly property tax levied at the local level.

And even if you DO have kids in the system, you don’t have much, if any, choice.  At the appropriate time you are given the opportunity to register your child and, often based on where you live, are told which school you will attend.  Don’t like it?  Tough.  So is the tender mercies of public education delivered to her children.

The Republican position?  Choice.

It’s the conservatives who are fighting the good fight of offering families and their children the choice of attending not only what school they would like to attend, but which “system” they would like to attend.  In other words, if you don’t wanna go to public school, you are free to choose a private school and obtain some form of voucher to help you pay the tuition.  Or, failing to overcome the liberal objection to choice [ironic isn’t it] the concept of Charter schools has been thrown out there.

Charter schools are an idea that keeps the school under the control of the public education system but are not private–they don’t charge tuition and are therefore able to take in any family, independent of income.  Even THIS idea is fought tooth and nail by the left.

In short, the only satisfactory solution is to continue to confiscate more and more of your money in a losing effort to throw it down the toilet to educate your children in a way and manner you don’t agree with.

Choice is the antithesis of the liberal mind [i know, hilarious, right?].

Until.

Until that restriction of choice impacts the protected class:

Education activists are rallying around a homeless woman who may face jail time for enrolling her son in kindergarten under a friend’s address. Supporters say the woman’s story is yet another dismaying example of inequality in the U.S. education system.

Got it?

Choice of which schools you can attend are restricted.  Unless you are

  1. Homeless
  2. A criminal
  3. A “victim of the inequality of the system”

Choice for you.  Not for me.

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13 comments
  1. Given the cost of living in California, my wife and I simply cannot afford private school (it will run you $20k+ per child per year in the Bay Area).

    Given the state of the education system in California (not necessarily the teachers, but more so the students), I’d rather send my kids to a Pakistani madrassah (not really, but I had to say that for effect).

    So, my wife and I decided years ago to homeschool our three children. I was initially suspicious of this alternative until it was homeschool or public school. Then the choice was fairly simple.

    To ensure my children aren’t missing anything, we make them take a standardized test each year. So long as they score well above the 90th percentile (ideally in the 99th percentile), we keep them in homeschool for another year. As such, my daughter could read when she was three, my son when he was five. My third daughter is still too young for formal schooling.

    We plan to save our money until high school, when we will try to send them to one of those high-powered boarding schools all my college classmates went to (Andover, Exeter, etc.). I had no idea they existed until I saw how many of their graduates got into top tier universities.

    I just got lucky that Stanford accepted a redneck son of two teachers from Delaware. What on earth were they thinking? Oh wait…diversity….

    • dedc79 said:

      It’s unfortunate that the public schools in your area are not good enough to send their kids there and it is ridiculous how expensive private schools are. As much of a financial bind as that puts you in, there are many people in a similar situation with the added limitation that homeschooling is impossible because the parents work during the day.
      The solution has to involve making public schools work, not abandoning them all together.

      • pino said:

        It’s unfortunate that the public schools in your area are not good enough to send their kids there

        But not surprising.

        The solution has to involve making public schools work, not abandoning them all together.

        I would agree that it is “A” solution.

    • pino said:

      Given the cost of living in California, my wife and I simply cannot afford private school (it will run you $20k+ per child per year in the Bay Area).

      You can’t afford to stay in California young man! Move East!

      I just got lucky that Stanford accepted a redneck son of two teachers from Delaware.

      An interesting thing; Economic success is not dependent on graduating from an elite school. Just being accepted is the critical stat.

  2. dedc79 said:

    Before we start giving families/kids a choice of schools it doesn’t seem unreasonable to make sure that they have at least one, free option — a public school.

    I honestly wouldn’t feel so strongly about the whole voucher debate if it hadn’t been made very clear by conservatives and/or republicans that their goal is to finish off the public school system entirely.

    • pino said:

      Before we start giving families/kids a choice of schools it doesn’t seem unreasonable to make sure that they have at least one, free option — a public school.

      There is no indication that she doesn’t have that option. What there IS an indication of is that she has a record and committed fraud. Not only did she register with an address that’s not hers, she registered in a city not hers. It’s one thing to pay into a system and then try to get the best school inside that system, but it’s another thing entirely to live in one system and try to take advantage of another system’s resources.

      I honestly wouldn’t feel so strongly about the whole voucher debate if it hadn’t been made very clear by conservatives and/or republicans that their goal is to finish off the public school system entirely.

      I want to be very VERY clear. I do NOT support the voucher system as is being recommended because it will result in public schools left with kids whose parents don’t care. Virtually the only way I support vouchers is if we finish thinking that government employees can educate our kids.

      I am fine with taxing the population in order to provide an education for our youth. However, I see no benefit in asking the government to do that educating.

  3. The ironic thing is that several of the Socialist countries in Europe so beloved by the Left actually offer vouchers and school choice to their citizens. If Sweden of all places can offer vouchers and school choice, why is it so controversial here? Oh, that’s right, here in the U.S., Democratic politicians are bought and paid for by the national and state teachers’ unions.

    • pino said:

      why is it so controversial here?

      The Left is willing to afford choice only to their selected class.

      Unless you are poor, a minority, discriminated against or are a member of another protected “class”, you are evil and a segregationist. Choice only applies to the select few.

      • Has anyone seen “Waiting for Superman”? Interesting documentary on the state of public education. One of the first things they say is that more money isn’t the solution.

      • pino said:

        Has anyone seen “Waiting for Superman”?

        I haven’t, but want too…..maybe this weekend.

      • Last time I checked, the majority of the kids in the Washington D.C. school district were low-income African-Americans. President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and many other Democrats didn’t want to allow those families to choose private schools as they did for their own families.

      • pino said:

        President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and many other Democrats didn’t want to allow those families to choose private schools as they did for their own families.

        There can be no other explanation.

        When the parents want choice, real choice, choice of where to send their kids to school, the Liberals balk. They insist, DEMAND, that the public continue to be forced to send their kids where the administrators tell them to go.

        But when the administration tells those parents where to send their kids, and the parents then resort to trickery and fraud, the Left erupts in righteous indignation!

        “Choice!” they clamor! This woman only wants to send her kids to a school that’s decent and safe and good and and and….stuff!

        But the administration is confused, “But you told us to confiscate her money and and create of her a criminal should she reject our monopoly. How can you turn on us now? We’ve heard the doctor and the lawyer and the factory worker ask for, beg for, the choice you are speaking of… and you praised us for our conscience and our dedication to the fight. What is it about THIS woman that will cause you to abandon no-choice and embrace a rational human being acting in her selfish best interest? What is it about her story that you find so compelling?”

        McDowell is a homeless single mother from Bridgeport

        Ahh….I see.

        She is protected class.

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