(Guest Post by Jason Bedrick)
Opponents of school choice frequently claim that the sky will fall if a school choice program is enacted. For example, the School Superintendents Association (AASA) claims that choice programs would “‘starve’ public education of critical funding” because so many students would leave their assigned district school in favor of alternatives.
Leaving aside how such concerns treats kids as mere funding units, choice opponents making this claim fail to take into account why families want other alternatives. Indeed, as the Cato Institute’s David Boaz has pointed out, such arguments reveal “the contempt that the [education] establishment has for its own product.”
Perhaps it is a new modicum of self-awareness that prompted a spokesperson of the AASA to abruptly (if unpersuasively) reverse course in a recent interview with EdWeek:
“Conservative think tanks are trying to solve problems that families and communities aren’t asking them to solve through school choice,” said Sasha Pudelski, the advocacy director at AASA, the School Superintendents Association. “When you talk to stakeholders, you don’t hear, ‘Please provide our families with more educational options;’ they want their own schools to be better. They are not looking for an alternative. It’s a solution without a problem.”
So which is it? Either no one is looking for alternative education options, in which case educational choice programs pose no threat because no one will use them anyway, or a significant number of families are looking for alternatives, in which case the district school establishment needs to explain why they shouldn’t have any (or, at least, why those options should only be open to children whose parents can afford them).
In case you were wondering about the answer, I’ll let 100,000+ low-income tax-credit scholarship students in Florida do the talking:
Image: “Rally in Tally” to support school choice on March 24, 2011. h/t Step Up for Students