What’s the best way to dismantle public education and privatize schools? School choice. That’s what our friend Chris Fitzsimon says in a guest editorial in last week’s Public School Forum’s Friday Report. Amusing, but certainly not true — ask the Milwaukee Public Schools. If I really wanted to dismantle public education, let’s just say I could find more effective ways. Fitzsimon and anti-choice advocates like to demonize anyone who favors school choice and portray themselves as the guardians of the public schools. But are they? The real goal of those who oppose school choice seems to be not providing students with quality educational opportunities, but the preservation of the public school “system.” Yes, school choice may contribute to some schools losing revenue due to a loss of pupils. But curiously, liberals always only look at such a development as a “system” loss. No consideration is ever given to the benefits of less crowded classrooms, having children attend better schools or the potential benefits of market forces on institutional performance. A genuine interest in students generates an interest in why students choose to transfer to another school. I’m still looking for any examples by anti-choice advocates of the slightest expression of concern over any of the reasons WHY students and parents might want to flee a failing system.
At the heart of this issue is a simple question: Is government created to serve the individual, or merely to perpetuate the state? School choice empowers parents and families. And, it works. We trust students and families to make informed and wise decisions about which colleges their children attend. Could we ever contemplate not having that choice? Has doing so lead to the dismantling and ruination of public higher education? The silence is telling.