'School Choice' and Disenfranchising the Public

"School choice" is one of those policy ideas that just never goes away, and it probably never will. For some people it is an irresistible way to unlock all those public tax dollars and turn them into private profits. For others it's a way to make sure their children don't have to go to school with "those people." Other people are justifiably attracted to the idea of more control over their child's education. And still others have a sincere belief that competition really does create greatness.

Voucher fans and proponents of modern charters like to focus on those promises. They're much quieter about one of the other effects of a choice system.

School choice disenfranchises the public.

Our public school system is set up to serve the public. All the public. It is not set up to serve just parents or just students. Everybody benefits from a system of roadways in this country -- even people who don't drive cars -- because it allows a hundred other systems of service and commerce to function well.

School choice treats parents as if they are the only stakeholders in education. They are not. We all depend on a society in which people are reasonably well-educated. We all depend on a society in which people have a reasonably good understanding of how things work. We all depend on a society in which people have the basic abilities needed to take care of themselves and the people around them. We all depend on dealing with doctors and plumbers and lawyers and clerks and neighbors who can read and write and figure. We hope for fellow voters who will not elect a politician because he promises to convert straw to gold by using cold fusion. We all depend on a society that can move forward because it is composed of people who know things.

(Read more at the Huffington Post)