The School Choice Debate

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Scott J Davies

Scott Davies is a freelance writer and tutor. He is currently studying a Master of Education. He is interested in education, economics, geopolitics and history. He's on Twitter and has a Medium page.

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9 Responses

  1. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    Very interesting post Scott, though I disagree with some of your conclusions. I’ll first focus on this:

    “It found that private schooling resulted in significant gains across the board, particularly in STEM subjects. Finally, private school attendance through to 12th grade was found to significantly reduce the chances of having a criminal record. These results show that there are strong arguments both academically and morally for favouring school choice expansion.”

    Full disclosure: I attended 12 years of private (parochial) schools. With that said, simply putting a child on the lower end of the socio-economic scale in a private school will not magically deliver results unless there is a commitment from the child’s family. To that point, look at desegregation efforts in cities like Louisville. Results have been mixed and they cause cascading effects when the parents aren’t onboard and/or the school is not local to their home. We could say that school choice = parental involvement, and I don’t dispute that, but you can also create school choice within a school system.

    In addition to the district’s desegregation plan and the normal selection of ‘reside’ schools, Louisville’s school system (JCPS) also has a robust system of magnet, optional traditional and montessori programs.

    Magnet schools offer unique, schoolwide curricula. Many magnet schools accept applications from students throughout the district, and JCPS provides transportation for most students who are accepted.

    Optional programs are small, specialized programs within a school. Students who live outside the school’s attendance area may apply, but JCPS does not provide transportation for these students.

    A traditional school is a type of magnet school that focuses on teaching and learning at grade level in a traditionally structured classroom environment. Traditional schools require uniforms, daily homework, and parent involvement. A traditional program operates in the same way as a traditional school, but it’s a program within a school.

    A Montessori school uses the Montessori approach to learning, which encourages critical thinking, exploration, and self-directed education.

    In my opinion, this creates a lot of choice within the framework of a public school system, which then creates competition between those schools for those students, which is exactly what people like DeVos are advocating for.Report

  2. Avatar Jesse says:

    I’m in favor of actual school choice.

    By that, I mean the consolidation of well funded and basically gated suburban and exurban school disricts with urban school districts so that all public school students in an area have access to good public schools with unionized well paid teachers instead of outsourcing the job to “non profit” organizations backed by billionaires.

    The truth is, 95% of what is positive about charter schools can be done in democratically accountable public schools with teachers that have strong workers protections.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jesse says:

      The truth is, 95% of what is positive about charter schools can be done in democratically accountable public schools with teachers that have strong workers protections.

      Why hasn’t it been?Report

      • Avatar Jesse in reply to Jaybird says:

        Because federal and state education money has largely been in control of people who are at best, ambivalent about public education (Large parts of Obama’s education policy is the only place where I agree with leftists that both parties were the same. DeVos is saying much of the same stuff Obama’s EdSec’s were, except now with extra bigotry!) and most urban districts don’t have the access to the billions that charter schools have access too, plus there’s things like administrators who want reasons to blame teachers and such. Also, public support of neighborhood schools over open district enrollment.

        I mean, here in Seattle, there are schools like Hazel Wolf K-8 STEM School. Totally public, open enrollment, etc. There’s nothing that shows it’s different than hyped charter schools is that it’s a public school where the teachers have tenure.

        https://hazelwolfk8.seattleschools.org/

        I’m sure there’s also bad, mean, terrible teachers that are destroying public schools.Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Jesse says:

          @jesse

          While I agree with you about the necessity for district-wide enrollment, I don’t think this is a money problem. There are frankly a lot of social problems that affect schools. Good example: A close relative of mine deals with parents navigating the student assignment plan here. In almost every case that someone is appealing their student assignment, they literally did nothing to ensure their kid could be placed in a school of their choice. The plan allows parents to select 1st, 2nd and 3rd choices but usually they don’t even send in the letter. My relative also helps deal with misplaced kids on the first day of school. Every year they have parents that just drop their kindergarten-aged kids off at the closest school because they didn’t read their mail. This doesn’t even touch on the complaints from teachers about un-involved parents, attendance issues, etc. Simply put, a lot of people in poorer areas aren’t great parents. It’s not that they are bad people, but they might be the 3rd or 4th generation to be poorly educated and poorly parented themselves. That has an effect on school results and the schools themselves have no real ability to mitigate that reality.Report

          • Avatar Jesse in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            Well, I agree it’s not a money problem when it comes to say, “education funding” in this case, but it is a problem in the case of “we have a very small welfare state that doesn’t actually do much to help children in poverty and their parents.”

            I mean, I don’t believe as a percentage, America has more “bad parents” than Germany. It’s just that countries like that put more resources to mitigating the damage those bad parents can do.

            My point on the lack of money is that all the shiny new buildings, staff, and other things that are currently being poored into charter schools have could’ve been spent on doing the same for already existing public schools or creating new public schools that would be open to all. It wouldn’t fix all the problems, but it wouldn’t hurt either.

            Along with like I said, consolidating school districts.Report

            • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Jesse says:

              “Well, I agree it’s not a money problem when it comes to say, “education funding” in this case, but it is a problem in the case of “we have a very small welfare state that doesn’t actually do much to help children in poverty and their parents.”

              I mean, I don’t believe as a percentage, America has more “bad parents” than Germany. It’s just that countries like that put more resources to mitigating the damage those bad parents can do.”

              No argument with you there. You and I might disagree with what those mitigation efforts look like, but I’m 100% onboard with doing something.

              “Along with like I said, consolidating school districts.”

              This is not something I am familiar with because Louisville only has one school district (two if you count the archdiocese). I could absolutely see how this is a problem.

              One thing I would caution on, if we open all schools to all people, it does create side-effects. My relative, who is a school social worker, sees a lot of kids who are being bused across town at a young age and then they have behavioral issues on the bus (her statement, “No 7 year-old can keep it together for a 90 minute bus ride every day.”) Our school system allows those kids to be removed from the bus and then attendance issues start because the parents can’t get the kid to school. So… I would want to see some kind of barrier that demonstrates parental commitment to the school of choice. That’s basically what we have with our traditional, optional and magnet programs.Report

          • Avatar lyle in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

            Why not take at least part of the idea from the old catholic schools of a generation ago Dress code could be solid dark color pants shirt skirt or dress The latter to the knee.
            No ad logo visible anywhere (also saves parents a ton of money as logo wear costs a lot more)
            Of course the old catholic schools got discipline by literally saying if you don’t behave go will send you to hell. But they did have a lot better discipline, but today wrapping on the knuckles with a ruler would not go which reports say nuns 70 years ago often did.Report

    • Avatar Roland Dodds in reply to Jesse says:

      Here here.Report

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