Ciboski: On School Choice

Dec 14, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump has appointed Betsy DeVos, an advocate of school choice, to be Secretary of Education. The idea of school choice is that a student can leave a poorly performing school for one that can supposedly provide a better education, including private and parochial schools. Charter schools are an example of a choice. They are publicly-funded, and they have greater freedom than public schools in the kind of curricula they wish to have and in choosing their students. Critics of charter schools say that this takes away funding from public schools and also leads to the loss of their top students.

The providing of vouchers by the government is one method for providing students with school choice. Vouchers are given to parents to cover part of the cost of tuition at private or parochial schools. Supporters of the voucher system argue that this would force public schools to improve their performance or else lose their permanent funding. Critics of the voucher system argue that this takes money away from public schools and subsidizes more affluent parents who would probably send their kids to a private or parochial school anyway. Also, many Americans do not want their taxes used to support private and parochial schools. Another argument against the voucher system is that since not all costs at private or parochial schools are covered with a voucher, poor parents would not have the money to pay the remainder for their kids to attend a parochial or private school.

I am opposed to the school choice idea because I think it would further weaken poorly performing schools, namely the public schools. Also, the public school idea is a hallmark of American democracy. It is available for all classes of people, and it has helped make Americans a more literate people.