Thursday, April 16, 2009

Debunking the Ed Deformer "School Choice" Argument

The phony "give parents choice" free market idea being pushed by the education deformers is finally being challenged. Why don't all parents get a quality zoned neighborhood school? Here is what the charter school operators don't want to do: Take over a few entire schools intact. For experimental purposes, let's allow them to change anything they want - teachers, supervisors, whatever. Anything except the kids. No lottery. Just take the zoned school and make them work. Edison has failed at this no matter where they try it.

Leonie Haimson takes a shot at the school choice argument after the Daily News revealed that the Carl Icahn run charter school in the Bronx accepted only 3% of the applicants. Leonie says:

All classes at the school are capped at 18, according to its website and an article in the NY Sun. Classes run to 4 PM, with Saturday help for any child who needs it.

And yet this administration, which promotes charter schools at every opportunity, allowed class size to rise in all grades this year but 4th – despite millions of dollars in state aid that was targeted specifically to reducing class size. More than 66,000 students-- or about one quarter of all NYC public school children in grades K-3 are now in classes of 25 or more– an increase of more than 11, 000 students compared to last year. There are nearly 14,000 students in grades 1-3 in classes over 28 – a 36% jump.

Charter school promoters like Eli Broad constantly say that charter schools are “laboratories for success that others can emulate within a public-school system. So I'm a very strong believer in mayoral control."

Not sure what the meaning of “laboratories for success” is when the Mayor and the Chancellor resolutely refuses to implement the same reforms that make charter schools successful in the regular public schools they control – even when state law demands it.

And I’m not sure what parental “choice” means, which the administration claims to support, when they are insistent on taking away the most basic choice of all from parents – to send their children to their zoned neighborhood public schools. Some might even see it as a right -- except for the people who run this city, who would rather see the dissolution of our public schools so that privatization can prevail.

The entire piece is at the NYC Public School Parents blog.

Oakland teacher Stephen Miller pointed out in his great piece Pimping for Privatization
The idea of school choice is another “get rich quick scheme” that sounds good until it is examined. What happened in America that should we even have to choose at all

Schools push out the students who take more time and resources to educate. Once privatized, schools compete for the “good” students. Middle-class parents, who have the time and know-how to work the system, get their kids into the “right” schools. Parents from poorer families generally lack these resources and usually wind up taking whatever they are given.

To paraphrase… the law, in all of its magnificence, allows poor parents, as well as rich, to drive their students across town twice a day in their Porsche SUVs to insure their kids are receiving a quality education. “Choice” benefits parents who have the resources to choose. It simply does not carry the same guarantees as a “right”.


  1. I believe in school choice. The rich are afford choice because they can pay to send their kids anywhere. Charter schools and vouchers(possibly even small scale vouchers) give that choice to anyone. It's a huge disservice to parents and students to not have alternatives.

    Having said all that, how can anyone possibly believe 3% admittance is any form of choice.

    Also charters taking over existing schools is an excellent idea. What kind of politics would be involved in that I wonder? Would a school board ever vote for that sort of thing?

  2. Starting to look a lot like England over here, and I'm not talking tea parties.

    For the elite, "public schools" — independent enterprises, financed and governed by charitable trusts. (As for the fee-paying part, vouchers now, tuition later. Trust me.)

    And for the rest of us, plain old "state" schools.

    With all the rogue financiers, bankers and corporate execs morphing into an ersatz aristocracy, all we need is royalty and we're there.

  3. I hadn't noticed when I wrote the last comment that NYC Parents also made a UK connection.

    It was about the NCLB and testing:

  4. Derek
    You are all theory. I mean you live in Maine and are not involved in urban education.

    You say this: "Soon I will be pursuing a masters in Education Policy. Politics, history, and education have always intrigued me."

    But not intrigued enough to put yourself where you can really do some good - working with kids as a teacher. But you want to make ed policy. Do you get why so many of us who spent our lives working in the poorest urban areas think that is just a bit arrogant?


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