School choice should be a slam-dunk issue. There’s very powerful evidence that we can provide superior education for lower cost if we shift away from monopoly government schools to a system based on parental choice.
Yet some leftists oppose this reform, even though poor and minority kids would be the biggest beneficiaries. Here’s some of what I wrote last year about how the left deals with this issue.
…the school choice issue exposes the dividing line between honest liberals and power-hungry liberals. Regardless of ideology, any decent person will favor reforms that enable poor kids to escape horrible government schools. Lots of liberals are decent people. The ones who oppose school choice, by contrast, are…well, you can fill in the blank.
The Washington Post, to its credit, belongs in the “decent” category. Here’s some of the paper’s editorial on school choice in Louisiana.
Nine of 10 Louisiana children who receive vouchers to attend private schools are black. All are poor and, if not for the state assistance, would be consigned to low-performing or failing schools with little chance of learning the skills they will need to succeed as adults. So it’s bewildering, if not downright perverse, for the Obama administration to use the banner of civil rights to bring a misguided suit that would block these disadvantaged students from getting the better educational opportunities they are due.
The editorial eviscerates the nonsensical data that the Obama Administration is using as it puts the interests of powerful teacher unions above the needs of disadvantaged children.
The government argues that allowing students to leave their public schools for vouchered private schools threatens to disrupt the desegregation of school systems. …Since most of the students using vouchers are black, it is, as State Education Superintendent John White pointed out to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, “a little ridiculous” to argue that the departure of mostly black students to voucher schools would make their home school systems less white. …The government’s argument that “the loss of students through the voucher program reversed much of the progress made toward integration” becomes even more absurd upon examination of the cases it cited in its petition. …a school that lost five white students through vouchers and saw a shift in racial composition from 29.6 percent white to 28.9 percent white. Another school that lost six black students and saw a change in racial composition from 30.1 percent black to 29.2 percent black. “Though the students . . . almost certainly would not have noticed a difference, the racial bean counters at the DOJ see worsening segregation,”… The number that should matter to federal officials is this: Roughly 86 percent of students in the voucher program came from schools that were rated D or F. Mr. White called ironic using rules to fight racism to keep students in failing schools; we think it appalling.
Not only appalling, but also hypocritical. The President is sending his children to an ultra-expensive private school, but doesn’t want poor families to have any choice to get a good education.
Unfortunately, though, it is not a surprise from an administration that…has proven to be hostile — as witnessed by its petty machinations against D.C.’s voucher program — to the school choice afforded by private-school vouchers. …Louisiana parents are clamoring for the choice afforded by this program; the state is insisting on accountability; poor students are benefiting. The federal government should get out of the way.
Kudos to the Washington Post for urging a withdrawal of federal intervention. Now if we can get the Post to apply the same federalism lesson to Medicaid, transportation, and other issues, we’ll be making real progress.
For more information on the overall issue of school choice, I strongly recommend this video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity Foundation.
By the way, don’t believe propaganda from politicians and union bosses about “underfunded” schools. The United States spends more per capita than any other country.
This isn’t an issue of money. The problem is that monopolies don’t deliver good results. Particularly monopolies controlled by self-serving union bosses that use political muscle to protect undeserved privileges.
P.S. Not surprisingly, Thomas Sowell nails this issue, as does Walter Williams, with both criticizing the President for sacrificing the interests of minority children to protect the monopoly privileges of teacher unions.
P.P.S. Chile has reformed its education system with vouchers, as have Sweden and the Netherlands, and all those nations are getting good results.
P.P.P.S. There are some other honest and sincere liberals on this issue.