School Choice? Sure, but don’t expect miracles.

Shell Game

Some say that instead of automatically dumping money into public schools parents should be given the money and allowed to spend it on any school or other education facility that they think might work for their child or children.

Okay, but…

For many of my students there are no parents to make those choices.

For many of my students the parents are working two or three jobs to get by and don’t have the time to educate themselves about the options, much less attend meetings or other appointments.

For many students, some of them mine, the lack of transportation limits their choices more than the lack of options.

The parents of some of my students show up for every parent/teacher meeting…drunk…or stoned.

For many of my students their parental inability to read English, or in some cases any language, limits access to information necessary to know of options and make informed choices.

School choice does not help the student who comes to class hungry, abused or unloved.

School choice does not change the housing situation of students who can’t find a quiet room or flat space to do their homework on.

School choice does not help the student who goes home and has to care for infants or younger siblings because mom is working a night shift. Or out with her boyfriend.

School choice might be the answer for some people in some situations somewhere, but my students need a whole lot more than choice to make their lives succeed.

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6 Responses to School Choice? Sure, but don’t expect miracles.

  1. Tom says:

    Just check out Milwaukee’s results with school choice and then decide whether it is a good idea.

    • Deven Black says:

      I’m not against school choice, I just don’t think it is the panacea that it is billed as. I also don’t think that education, no matter how effective, will cure poverty.

  2. David Ashby says:

    I don’t believe, nor do I hope anyone else believes that school choice will fix any of the problems mentioned. School choice will, however, address problems with openness and competition in schools. One reason I love technology is the industry’s push for open standards which encourage innovation, competition, and most of all my ability to think for myself.

    Perhaps your students would rise to the occasion if they had more choice in their own education. I’ve seen this in 3rd world countries where individuals, because of their situations or lack thereof, make choices and do things against all odds in order elevate themselves out of their setting.

    I don’t think that School choice will hurt the types of students mentioned. I do know, however, that education is the best chance we have for helping them.

    • Deven Black says:

      Again, I do not oppose choice. I work hard to give my students choices within the classroom and to emphasize their options out of it. But I also do not believe that education, no matter how fine or how much choice in involved, will solve the issues of poverty, lack of access to comparable technology, lack of medical care and lack of parental modeling that my students face. By focusing solely on education as a cure-all to what ails society politicians, policy makers and the media abdicate responsibility for finding other, more realistic, solutions.

  3. While giving freedom to those with the wherewithal to take it may not be the answer to moving all children out of abject poverty, our country is not only made up of such people. While this may not be the panacea for all of them it could be for some. For instance schools like Big Picture, Nuestra Escuela, North Star, etc. are alternative schools that are showing promising results for children that many in society have given up on. Problem is many of these alternative type settings aren’t funded by the government. Such schools could help and recruit these students if people could choose where their dollars went.

    As a concrete example, I went to visit The Manhattan Free School which currently can’t be publicly funded because they don’t buy into the No Child Left Untested crap. The school has plenty of low income children that they work tirelessly to raise money so they can afford tuition. The principal knows she could help many more such students if the funds could be allocated and detached from testing mandates. Schools like this go right into the community, churches, parks, etc. recruiting families and teens. If the funding could be allocated you would see more such alternative options cropping up for children. Additionally in many cases teens could do the work to make their own choice. While this might not work for all, freedom is a good thing even if some choose not to take it.

  4. […] School Choice? Sure, but don’t expect miracles. ( […]

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