Education Secretary Betsy Devos has repeatedly trumpeted the concept of “school choice.” The word “choice” sounds positive and leaves the impression that parents and students need a wider variety of options when it comes to education. However, school choice, as it is purported by DeVos and other, far-right organizations, will actually be detrimental to schools and students throughout the country.
The proposal would allow taxpayer dollars – public funds – to be siphoned into private school organizations, most of which are not subject to the same accountability standards as public schools. By creating a marketplace of sorts, the proposal turns kids into commodities and hurts instructional opportunities in poorer neighborhoods by reducing badly needed funding in their schools. In fact, “school choice” would benefit only the wealthiest of parents who can already afford to provide private school tuition for their children. Possibly most detrimental, it would re-segregate schools.
What DeVos fails to point out is that choices are actually plentiful for our nation’s students. From athletics to fine arts to programs of study that lead to a career path, students and parents have numerous instructional options. Moreover, by law, public schools admit every student without regard to race, religion, health or any other personal background. Private institutions can accept or reject students at will. While many private schools provide exceptional education, they should be paid for out a parent’s pocketbook rather than the taxpayers’.