Tuesday, June 26, 2012

No, School Choice will not kill public education

School choice opponents like to argue that vouchers will hurt public schools, segregate students, and worse: destroy public education.  These talking heads like to resort to using fear to defend a system—one that for millions of children provides a great education, but is very simply not the best fit for hundreds of thousands of others.

But what many opponents to education reform forget is that education is not about a certain system, government bureaucracy, or politics.  Education reform is about providing an education for every child in America, because having access to a quality K-12 education is a right, not a privilege.  As a nation, we believe in the equality of opportunity—the opportunity for any person to achieve their dreams.  We don’t believe in systems, we believe in learning.

Public education fulfills that need for lots of families; but others are left behind and don’t receive the quality education that can transform a life.  So it our duty to ensure that children have other options. 

It's with that in mind that we came across a Washington Post blog post by Diane Ravitch, who asked if school choice will kill public education.  The answer, very clearly, is no.

Ravitch commented that if education becomes a consumer choice, that community members will not want to pay for other’s education.  She writes:
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.
The school choice movement is both about society providing a high-quality education for all children and allowing students to access the education that works for that student.  Allowing choice will not diminish our civic sense of providing education.  Individual choice and real educational options are both strong civic duties.

- American Federation for Children | Alliance for School Choice, MSG

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