December 4, 2023

Jess Piper: A Rebuttal to a School Choice Legislator

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Jess Piper responds to a Missouri state representative. She found an article by Jeff Myers, who usually just deals with emergency services. Education, she says, is not his wheelhouse.

You can read the Representative’s letter if you like, but I bet you can tell me the talking points before you even open it — they are the same lame, tired, boring talking points the school choice lobbyists always use.

“School choice for everybody!”

“A free-market approach!”

“Competition breeds innovation.”

Except, it doesn’t. None of those things apply to schools or learning. We can’t use business models in education— not in schools. Especially not rural schools.

Rural towns don’t have Starbucks to compete with the gas station coffee because there is no market for expensive coffee. We don’t have a Target to compete with the Dollar General because there aren’t enough folks to support the retailer. And, we don’t have private schools to compete with our public schools because there are not enough children to build or staff another school. Market solutions don’t work when there is a tiny market.

Rural towns usually can’t support two schools, and most of us don’t want two schools. We support our local public schools. We are proud to be the Warriors and the Wildcats. Small town proud. Representative Myers ignores his constituents on that point.

In the letter, Representative Jeff Myers said, “School choice provides families with the flexibility to choose the best educational environment for their children. This could mean traditional public schools, charter schools, private schools, virtual schools, and homeschooling. The key is putting the power back into the hands of parents…”

Parents in his district already have those options and the power to make decisions for their children. They can choose to homeschool. They can choose to drive their kid out of district to a religious school. They can choose an online school. All of these things are available, but Myers thinks Missouri taxpayers should be on the hook for choice, even if that “choice” is a religious school.

A point that Myers does not speak to is that his own district has schools already on a 4-day week because they can’t recruit or retain teachers with such low pay. How will adding another school by siphoning taxpayer funds from the already defunded public school fix this issue? It won’t.

Read her complete rebuttal here. 

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