Evidence Mounts That School Choice Isn't Delivering Promised Results, Not That K-12 Privateers Are Listening
What if school choice results in bad choice?
Another week, another round of evidence that providing parents with more “school choice,” especially the kind that lets them opt out of public schools, is not a very effective vehicle for ensuring students improve academically or that taxpayer dollars are spent more wisely.
The latest evidence comes from a study of the voucher program in Washington, DC that allows parents to transfer their children from public to private schools at taxpayer expense. The study found that students “who attended a private school through the program performed worse on standardized tests than their public school counterparts who did not use the vouchers,” reports the New York Times.
This study adds to others – from Ohio, Indiana, and Louisiana – finding that school vouchers have negative impacts on students.
Despite these results, many proponents of school choice contend the purpose of school choice was never about generating better results. It’s about choice for choice’s sake.
Results Don’t Matter?
That seems to be what US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos argues in her reaction to the news about the apparent failure of the DC voucher program. As the Washington Post reports, the report prompted her to say, “When school choice policies are fully implemented, there should not be differences in achievement among the various types of schools.”
That reaction struck education historian Diane Ravitch as an implication that “results don’t matter.” She writes on her personal blog, “If you parse this sentence, what she is saying is that when everyone chooses, none of the schools will be better than any others. They will all get the same results, even if they are dismal. The purpose of choice is choice.”
Ravitch points to an op-ed in a local DC paper that argues the “while point” of choice is for parents to pick schools they believe to be “best” for their children, regardless of the nature of the school or the results of its program.
The writer compares education to breakfast cereal, arguing that some parents may prefer Cheerios while some prefer other brands. What’s the big deal?
This line of reasoning aligns with DeVos’s recent comments comparing schools toEvidence Mounts That School Choice Isn't Delivering Promised Results, Not That K-12 Privateers Are Listening | Alternet: