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  • Education Made Simple: What is School Choice?

    We’re just eight months in, but 2011 has already proven to be the most exciting year for school choice to date. Thirteen states and D.C. enacted or expanded school choice options for families, leading The Wall Street Journal to proclaim 2011 “The Year of School Choice.” But just what is school choice?

    Heritage’s new education video tells the story of two towns: Choiceville and Districtville. Choiceville has a variety of supermarkets, each specializing in something different. Supermarkets compete to attract customers, increasing quality for everyone.

    But it’s a different story in Districtville. In this town, residents pay their monthly grocery bill into a common fund, which is then distributed to individual grocery stores. Consumers are assigned to a store by district, and may shop only at that store.

    Does this sound absurd? The education system in America works much like Districtville.

    Children are assigned to their local public school based on their parent’s zip code. Many families cannot afford to pay property taxes to support their local public school plus private school tuition, so if their child’s assigned public school fails to meet his needs, parents often have few options. Lack of competition means public schools have little incentive to improve, which contributes to the stagnant achievement levels and graduation rates across the country.

    School choice, by contrast, allows parents to spend their education dollars, like their grocery dollars, where they see fit. Parents can “shop around” to find the school that gives their child the best education.

    Where would you rather live: Choiceville, or Districtville?

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    3 Responses to Education Made Simple: What is School Choice?

    1. Louise O'Neil says:

      You miss an important point in your school choice story in that one reason public schools do not improve is because politicians’ children, particularly in big cities, are not subjected to the inferior schools that they promote.

      They more often than not send their children to private school, while, at the same time opposing school choice. I think they promote public schools because they want to perpetuate the system that provides jobs and contracts for friends and political allies rather than prepare young people to compete globally.

      One way to remedy this is to require that elected officials actually use they systems they promote. I bet that would expedite change: they would finally support school choice or take the necessary steps to improve their local public school system.

    2. Baker Mitchell says:

      It has been amply documented that most colleges of education base their curricula on the theoretical principles of Piaget’s constructivism and eschew, if not demonize, the empirically proven principles of Skinner’s behaviorism.
      Dr. George Cunningham’s study of North Carolina’s education schools and the National Council of Teacher Quality’s study of North Carolina certification standards are independent examples documenting the overwhelming constructivist bias in teacher education.
      The importance of the principles underlying a teacher’s training must not be underestimated, as discussed in http://bakeramitchell.com/2011/05/20/behaviorism-… .
      Real choice for parents should be in the pedagogy not who makes up the school's board. But with the ed schools shackled to constructivism, it is a Hobson's choice.

    3. Lois Cohen says:

      I have just finished reading Ed Feulner's editorial in the Philadelphia Inquirer from August 28th. He talks about school choice making inroads. I found the editorial to be interesting and informative. However, as a retired public school teacher, I have one important caveat. Just because a school is either a private school or a charter school does not make it automatically a good school. There have been numerous reports of failing charter and private schools, just as there are failing public schools. I won't even discuss home schooling.

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