Here’s What’s So Bad About School Choice

"Choice" is a mantra thrown around by many in the corporate education reform movement, often to disguise true intentions of profiteering. Here's a smart article looking at just some of the problems with "choice". We've excerpted just a small piece, the whole should be read.

Problem 3: The Driver for Parents’ School Choices Is Not Always Educational Quality

There’s another fundamental problem with this approach as well. In our economic system, consumers demonstrate how much they value an item by how much they are able and willing to pay for it. A best-selling toothpaste demonstrates it’s the superior product by the very fact that more consumers decide to buy it rather than rival brands. Kaufmann believes the same dynamic should be at work for schools.

But society has a strong interest in well-educated young people prepared to assume the responsibilities of citizenship. This is the job of our schools. Hence we have far more of a stake in the choices parents would make for their students’ schools than we do in their choices of laundry soap or cat food.

Before we hand over responsibility to parents for determining what kinds of schools will educate our next generation of citizens, we ought to have confidence in the values that will inform their decisions.

This doesn’t seem to be much of a concern for Kaufmann. He writes that “parents concerned for their children’s welfare are highly motivated to choose wisely.” He implicitly assumes that the values that parents apply in selecting schools for their children are the same educational values that we embrace as a society. Accordingly, we can assume that thousands of individual parental choices will have a cumulative impact that reflects the values that we share as a community.

Further, since the end goal is academic excellence, we can also expect that the objective measures of educational achievement available to us, like standardized math and reading scores, will be of critical importance to our choosing-wisely parents.

We agree with the conclusion of the article.