Let’s Privatize American Education Even If There Is Little to No Research to Support School Choice
The new administration-elect in Washington has a plan. Take $20 billion from public education, possibly destroying a core idea of democracy, and then distribute it as vouchers that could that could be used at a host of private institutions, especially charter schools.
You might say that this seems like a democratic way to education our youth.
However, its my view that education needs to be in the public domain, and citizens need to fight to make sure that the slow creep of privatization does not turn into an avalanche. The democratic values that are the centerpiece of our society have been under assault, especially with the rise of the extreme conservative movement that began with Barry Goldwater, and continues today with the take over of the Republican party by extreme right-wing ideologues, who took the White House on November 8, 2016.
Although we don’t know if Twimpie* (I’m using George Lakoff’s sound symbolic renaming of the president-elect) will follow through with his campaign ideas (he’s backed off some, but then he hasn’t appointed anyone for his cabinet).
Privatizing public education will be a big push of Twimpie’s administration, even if the research on privatization of education tends either to show that private ventures such as charter schools do not outperform public schools, or that the research is rather limited, such as when we look at virtual schools.
School choice has been around, but accelerated after the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka ruling (1954), when white parents wanted to continue with the segregation of schools by sending their children to private schools.
None of these initiatives is as effective or more so than public schools in boosting student achievement on standardized tests. And the research on some forms of choice, such as home schooling and virtual schools is meager.
Research on School Choice
According to G. Miron and J.L. Urschel, research on school choice needs to improve, as well as how it is interpreted. In their chapter on the impact of school choice on school achievement published in Learning From the Federal Market-Based Reforms (Library Copy), they survey the research on the effect of the following types of school choice on student achievement:
- Home schooling
- Interdistrict, Intradistrict and Magnet schools
- Charter schools,
- Virtual schools.
Considering the quality of the research (the authors analyzed each study using a weighting scheme) and effect on achievement, the researchers found that overall, the effect on learning was mixed, and in some cases (virtual schools) almost nonexistent. The the impact Let's Privatize American Education Even If There Is Little to No Research to Support School Choice — The Art of Teaching Science: