Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ School Choice

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Mar 04, 2009

Originally posted on Half an Hour, March 4, 2009.

Responding to Joanne Jacobs:

Without school choice, Ty’Sheoma Bethea will stay in her second-rate school

What does she think would happen if 'school choice' should suddenly appear? That this one person - and no other - would go to the first-rate school? No, of course not - but then, would everyone go to the first rate school? No, that wouldn't work either - there aren't enough spaces, and creating them would ruin the first-rate school.

The reasoning, of course, is that choice would create competition, which would magically make underpaid and underfunded schools suddenly become better. As good as the first-rate schools, even - because, otherwise, the logic simply doesn't work.

In fact, it doesn't work at all. The idea if school choice being the answer to someone stuck in a 'second-rate' school is a farce. You won't make all schools first-rate, and you won't get nearly all of the students into the first rate school.

The only way school choice makes sense is in supporting the *type* of education that is more appropriate for people (this, though, doesn't fly with the standards crowd because it allows that people have different learning styles, different needs, different interests, and that these could be served by the school board).

The fact is, "school choice" - at least how it is being used here - is code for "private". And these days, the people supporting privatization bear the onus of proof. The privatization crowd has basically wrecked the economy and the parts of the school system they touch - like, say, Edison schools - often end up as a wreck as well.

There is such a thing as genuine choice. I wrote about it here: But it has nothing to do with privatization, and everything to do with quality education. So it's probably not of interest here.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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