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Great Points on School Choice

July 5, 2012

With every day that goes by public education, the foundation of the educational system in this country gets chipped away revealing what has been a long time goal of some, namely: Privatize education in this country.

Valerie Strauss at the Washington Post‘s Answer Sheet blog has this posting from Diane Ravitch where Diane shares an email from a reader about what School Choice really means when you boil it down.

This is disturbing because the knowledge and wealth gap in this country has been widening for some time now.  Without good public schools to level the playing field to some degree, the future of the poor and middle class in this country is not as bright as it once was.

Ravitch: Will school choice kill public education?

This was written by education historian Diane Ravitch on her blog. Ravitch is a research professor at New York University and author of the best-selling “The Death and Life of the Great American School System.” She is the leading opponent of the school reform movement based on test-based accountability and the privatization of public education.

 By Diane Ravitch

A reader posted a comment that I think is profound. The more that people begin to see education as a consumer choice, the more they will be unwilling to pay for other people’s children. And if they have no children in school, then they have no reason to underwrite other people’s private choices.

The basic compact that public education creates is this: The public is responsible for the education of the children of the state, the district, the community. We all benefit when other people’s children are educated. It is our responsibility as citizens to support a high-quality public education, even if we don’t have children in the public schools.

But once the concept of private choice becomes dominant, then the sense of communal responsibility is dissolved. Each of us is then given permission to think of what is best for me, not what is best for we.

Here is what the reader wrote:

Parents have always been free to direct their personal funds to the private schools of their choice, for what they see as the additional private benefit of their own children.

But people pay taxes to support the public school system whether they are parents or not. If only parents are given a choice in the type of school system that tax dollars support, then only parents of school-age children should pay school taxes, and based on the number of children in school.

Private individuals are not entitled by any consideration of the common good to divert public funds for the sake of private corporate profit and personal religious preferences.

When people start seeing education as a private commodity that parents buy for their own children — just another personal choice, like whether to buy designer duds or that hot new toy — then we are going to see a taxpayer revolt like we have never seen before, and public-funded education will cease to exist.


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