School Choice: It's Not for Everyone, and that's the Problem (Opinion)

Marion Herbert's picture
Friday, January 27, 2012

This week is National School Choice Week -- a well-orchestrated PR event to celebrate "school choice."

The week of nationwide events even kicked off with a party in New Orleans complete with performances by The Temptations and Ellis Marsalis. It's a lot of fanfare in the name of choice. And choice is an attractive word. As American as apple pie, it's hard to pick an argument with choice. Options, we believe, are always good.

But that's not always the case.

When we talk about school choice -- which is most often associated with charter schools -- we can't let feel-good words and a glitzy campaign prevent us from providing our children with the best education possible. That means we must ensure our public education system is excellent, equitable and accessible to all children.

Unfortunately, these goals have become obscured by "school choice," which has become an end in itself -- even garnering its own week.

School choice doesn't magically improve education. Charter school proponents may argue that a free market, where parents get to pick and choose among educational options, will produce competition and better schools, but the data says otherwise.

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