“We know why parents want school choice…”

(Guest Post by Jason Bedrick)

In Mike Antonucci’s end-of-the-year roundup of quotes by and about teachers’ unions, this one stood out for me:

“We know why parents sometimes embrace these voucher schemes. They move their kids to these programs because they want smaller class size, safer environments and less and more sensible testing. That’s exactly what we want for public schools.” — Joanne McCall, president of the Florida Education Association

Wow, it’s almost as though — contrary to popular opinion among the ed establishment — parents know what’s good for their kids and where to get it!

McCall’s list is amusing for several reasons. First, if the district schools really want smaller class sizes, wouldn’t giving families other options accomplish that goal?

The same goes for safer environments. As Dr. Kevin Currie-Knight and I have explained, school choice not only gives bullied students an escape hatch, it also creates a strong incentive for district schools to take student safety seriously.

As for “less and more sensible testing,” I’m all for that. Would the teachers’ unions take a grand bargain that expanded school choice to all students while reducing top-down regulations on district schools (such allowing districts to decide which nationally norm-referenced test their students will take rather than being forced to administer the state test)?

Most school choice advocates would take that deal in a heartbeat, but I suspect that the people who constantly complain that “private schools aren’t held to the same high standards (that, ahem, we want to eliminate)” wouldn’t be willing to take that deal.

Of course, I hope I’m wrong about that. And the school choice movement will be waiting by the phone in case the unions call.

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6 Responses to “We know why parents want school choice…”

  1. Jason Bedrick says:

    “As Secretary of Education, would you carry your intent to destroy Detroit Public Schools to all public schools?” One of the American Federation of Teachers’s #Questions4Betsy during Betsy DeVos’s Jan. 17 confirmation hearing.

    “Also, when did you stop beating your husband?”

  2. Greg Forster says:

    First, if the district schools really want smaller class sizes, wouldn’t giving families other options accomplish that goal?

    That depends on whether unions are telling the truth when they claim almost all school spending is variable by enrollment, as they do when states set their annual education budgets, or if they’re telling the truth when they say almost no school spending is variable by enrollment, as they do when school choice programs are proposed.

  3. Ann in L.A. says:

    For many parents, school choice is less about choosing curriculum and the school’s focus as it is about choosing their kids’ peer group. They want their kids to be around well-behaved students who do their homework, care about their grades, and do not disrupt classes.

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