May 3, 2017 2:47 pm

Three big problems with school ‘choice’ that supporters don’t like to talk about

Published by
President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have been quite clear that expanding school choice is their top education priority. On Wednesday at a White House event, Trump said, according to a White House transcript:

During my campaign for president, I promised to fight for school choice — very important. It was featured in my joint address to Congress. And today, I’m calling on all lawmakers to work with us to help extend school choice to millions more children all across the United States of America, including millions of low-income Hispanic and African American children who deserve the same chance as every other child in America to live out their dreams and fill up their hearts and be educated at the top, top level.

But one thing Trump, DeVos and many other choice advocates don’t talk publicly about are the negative consequences that have come with the implementation of school choice in states throughout the country. We hear a lot from them about how wonderful it is that some families have some educational choices beyond their neighborhood public schools — the public schools DeVos has flatly called a “dead end” — but we don’t hear about the financial scandals or the lack of transparency or public accountability that have resulted in many places.

If these were outliers, it would be understandable, but they aren’t. The charter and voucher/voucher-like sectors in some states are so broadly flawed that some choice supporters have recognized it.  In 2015, charter-school researcher Margaret “Macke” Raymond of the Hoover Institute at Stanford University said this to people from Ohio about their troubled charter sector: “Be very glad that you have Nevada, so you are not the worst.” Raymond had previously issued a report saying Ohio charter-school students were learning 36 fewer days of math and 14 fewer days of reading than traditional public school students.

Let it be said that, yes, there are some wonderful charter schools. And yes, there are lousy traditional public schools. That isn’t open for debate. The question is whether the remedies pursued as part of school reform efforts are really helping the problem or hurting.

Here is a piece on some of the negative consequences of school choice that supporters don’t like to talk about. It was written by Carol Burris, a former New York high school principal who is executive director of the Network for Public Education, a nonprofit advocacy group. She has been chronicling problems with corporate school reform efforts for years on this blog. Burris was named the 2010 Educator of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State, and in 2013 the same organization named her the New York State High School Principal of the Year.

To read Carol Burris’s post, click here.