Tuesday, May 9, 2017

How Public School High School Choice Reinforces Segregation and Inequality in NYC | janresseger

How Public School High School Choice Reinforces Segregation and Inequality in NYC | janresseger:

How Public School High School Choice Reinforces Segregation and Inequality in NYC

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Last week, Wendy Lecker, an attorney with New Jersey’s Education Law Center and a columnist for the Stamford Advocate published a commentary that defines the meaning of public services and specifically the meaning of “public” in education: “Michigan professor Marina Whitman recently noted that the essence of a public good is that it is non-excludable; i.e. all can partake, and non-rivalrous; i.e. giving one person the good does not diminish its availability to another. Some school reforms strengthen education as a public good; such as school finance reform, which seeks to ensure that all children have adequate educational resources. Unfortunately, the reforms pushed in the Bush, Obama and Trump administrations attack education as a public good.  For example, choice—charters and vouchers…. Choice operates on the excludable premise of ‘saving a few.'”
Lecker explores the exclusionary implications of school privatization—charters and vouchers.  But there is also a way to make the public schools themselves less public, and that is the introduction of school choice into public school districts themselves. This has also been a centerpiece of much of modern school “reform,” and the most basic example has been promoted as a formal policy for school districts to adopt: Portfolio School Reform.  Portfolio School Reform has been formulated into principles and promoted across our nation’s big city school districts by a think tank called the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE).  Here is how CRPE defines “portfolio school reform” and its network of “portfolio school districts“: “The portfolio strategy is a problem-solving framework through which education and civic leaders develop a citywide system of high-quality, diverse, autonomous public schools. It moves past the one-size-fits-all approach to education. It puts educators directly in charge of their schools, empowers parents to choose the right schools for their children, and focuses school system leaders on overseeing school success.”
There is a lot of rhetoric in this definition about creating autonomous public schools, moving past one-size-fits-all schools, and putting educators directly in charge.  It is hard to know what all this means, but the next clause is clearer: Portfolio School Reform “empowers parents to choose the right schools for their children.”  And CRPE’s rhetoric promises that parents will all have the right to choose “a great school for every child in every neighborhood.”  Portfolio school reform theory posits the creation of privatized alternatives but it also includes the How Public School High School Choice Reinforces Segregation and Inequality in NYC | janresseger:

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