Monday, January 11, 2016

Seattle Schools Community Forum: The False Promise of Choice

Seattle Schools Community Forum: The False Promise of Choice:

The False Promise of Choice

One of the charms that ed reformers like to dangle before public school parents is choice.  It's quite the appealing siren call because 1) we're Americans and we love choices (even when they can overwhelm and even paralyze us) and 2) the idea that "wealthy people have choices when it comes to their children's schooling and so should you."

Number two is false on so many levels.  Wealthy people have many more choices period.  Houses, cars, vacations, clothes, colleges, you name it - wealthy people have so many more choices.  What's interesting is that the schools in our district are - almost to a school - full.  Now is that because there are more people in our city? Maybe but the private schools are full as well.  (Imagine if even half those private school parents came back.)

Here's a great essay by Chicago Schools' parent, Julie Vassilatos, The Frightening Implications of School Choice (bold hers, red highlight mine.) 

Because "choice" of this kind quietly diminishes the real power of our democratic voice while it upholds the promise of individual consumer preferences above all else.

In this model the local community is not important, and the voice of the local residents is not important. The neighborhood school is not the social epicenter for kids in one community and it is notthe locus of parent effort and investment of time.

But in a choice district, parents and kids rarely have the one option they most want--a strong, well resourced, nearby, neighborhood school.

With the choice model, what CPS is doing is investing insevering community. CPS has chosen a school model that fractures and breaks down local bonds among families and within neighborhoods.
Are public schools serving all children well? No. And that has always been the Seattle Schools Community Forum: The False Promise of Choice: