(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)
Mix in a few out of context quotes, make a few things up, and sprinkle in a healthy dose of confirmation bias and you get this strong with the lefty conspiracy theory side of the Force.
Milton Friedman never made his preference for universal choice a secret, quite the opposite. I don’t know what “talking points” the writer is referencing (a link would be nice unless they are in his coat pocket next to Joe McCarthy’s list of State Department spies) but ALEC has multiple school choice bills with either means-tests or sliding scales to give greater resources to children from low-income families.
A central flaw in the piece is a false assumption that school choice can’t serve kids in the inner city and suburbs at the same time, or that trying to do so cedes equity arguments. It can and it need not- lawmakers can and have structured choice programs to provide (in stark contrast to the public school systems of many states) greater total resources to low-income and otherwise disadvantaged children. I know it would be far more useful to school choice opponents if school choice supporters went around passing laws that offered greater resources to rich kids, but search the dozens of private choice programs from top to bottom and you won’t find such a thing. Dig around in public school finances for a few minutes and you’ll easily find examples of leafy suburbs spending far above statewide averages.
In a state spending an average of $15k per child, I’d be happy to offer free and reduced lunch kids an ESA of $20k. I’d offer the non-FRL kids an ESA of $10k so they could generate the savings for the economically disadvantaged. Feel free to persuade me otherwise, but if you think that offering that $10k ESA to non-poor kids shows that I don’t care about poor kids you’ll have to forgive my initial pained expression as I wonder what color the sky is in your world.
I don’t know, but isn’t there something strange about someone who gets this worked up about possibly “siphoning” $5 billion by 2020 out of what is today a $600 billion public education expenditure? So by 2020, barring another “Great Recession” we’re probably looking at a $630-650 billion public education budget and taking $5 billion out of it to allow something different is going to collapse the entire system? Exactly what does a state monopoly need to survive in 2020? There are things akin to “robber barons” associated with his post, but not the ones he thinks they are. I certainly agree with protecting and prioritizing the poor as we attack this miserable education system, but anyone who thinks that it’s only inner city and poor rural community schools that persistently underperform isn’t paying much attention.
[…] school choice backers favor universal programs, and responded that they prefer other mechanisms, like weighted funding, to meet the needs of disadvantaged […]