Choice?? When and why?

Re Choice. I just got an e-mail from someone who expresses surprise that anyone would not want choices between schools. Interesting. We’re led to believe that everyone wants school choice. But it’s more complex than that. Some surely do–for whatever reasons–and what should we do then? We have to balance lots of “goods” vs “bads” and figure out what we’re willing to trade off for what we value even more? Or how we can minimize the bad and maximize the good!!!

When we pretended that all schools were simply schools–and more or less identical, and it didn’t matter that much anyway—it made some sense to say geographic lines were it. Except for the rich, etc. But if we actually want each school to be “itself”–with a right to a distinctive approach, it gets difficult. For example, suppose I was zoned into a KIPP-like school, when across the street my neighbor had a choice of a Central Park East-like school. And vice-versa. More could be said, but this suggests the nature of the dilemma.

4 Responses

  1. We don’t have the resources to create a boutique system of public schools. We have enough trouble providing some basic level of education to everyone. We need to decide what it means to educate our population and how we commit to do that in every state, county, city, town and village. As a country we are much too diverse to think that we can dictate how each and every school district should be run and what it should teach. Nevertheless, as a country we are called to establish a broad set of guiding values and principles. How we deliver the services and resources is much messier. We do know that the free market will not deliver those resources equitably. We cannot tolerate winners and losers in our school systems.

    • It costs no more to create good individualized schools. The issue is not money but control. And in regards to money, this country has more than enough resources if it wanted to fund high quality schools for all. It is not lack of resources, but choices over where we spend what resources we have, and whether we allow a few to control the vast majority of those resources for their personal power.

  2. One lesson that 42 years as an inner city public school teacher, administrator, parent, and researcher has taught me: There is no perfect school for all students, or all teachers. Some teachers really like the project based, progressive approach. Some like the idea of teachers running schools. Some families prefer Montessori, some are much happier with Core Knowledge. If we are serious about empowering educators and low/moderate income families, we need some forms of school choice. Details matter. For example, I am not in favor of allowing k-12 schools to pick and choose their kids. But I don’t think we make progress if we insist there is a single best way to do “schools.” There was and is a lot to learn from District 4 in Harlem, where Deborah, Sy and others worked together to create a series of options.

    • Yes, choice has enosis advantages But it also can have serios negative consequences More later! It’s a problem with many a great idea

      Sent from my iPhone

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