Ravitch on School Choice

On her blog today, Diane Ravitch writes on the broader implications of school choice. But she ignores a key fact: our public school system already has choice. Relevant quote from her:

The basic compact that public education creates is this: The public is responsible for the education of the children of the state, the district, the community. We all benefit when other people’s children are educated. It is our responsibility as citizens to support a high-quality public education, even if we don’t have children in the public schools.

But once the concept of private choice becomes dominant, then the sense of communal responsibility is dissolved. Each of us is then given permission to think of what is best for me, not what is best for we.

But the reality is that choice already does exist in the public school system: families that have the means choose to live where there are better school districts, usually away from urban areas. This is very common in Philadelphia, for instance, where the surrounding suburbs have excellent schools. Kids in Philly without the money to move, however, don’t have that choice and are forced to attend failing, unsafe schools. So let’s not sit here and pretend that the current system is somehow equitable.

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