The Locker Room

Politicized "controlled choice" or real parental educational choice

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 10:40 AM

The N&O reports here that the Wake County School Board’s Student Assignment Committee will hear from Michael Alves, a Boston-based education consultant.

Mr. Alves has helped other school districts develop “controlled choice” plans. At first glance, this might appear to be a positive development, but Mr. Alves is an outspoken critic of school choice plans that have closed the achievement gap and improved student achievement.

Specifically, Mr. Alves and his colleagues criticize the research of John Chubb and Terry Moe, co-authors of Politics, Markets & America’s Schools. Chubb and Moe’s research is based on data from more than 500 schools and more than 20,000 students. Their research shows that student achievement will only improve when districts de-politicize their operations by transferring power to parents who are able to select the school that best meets their children’s needs. Unencumbered parental choice, not politicized “controlled choice,” is the way to improve the education of all of Wake County’s students.

My op-ed in the N&O describes how the Wake County schools could transition into such a parental choice plan:

Bold reform means abandoning the failed top-down, central-office planning model in which parents, teachers, principals and students often feel that they are victims of school board and central office decisions.Instead, the district needs a bottom-up system that gives parents, teachers,principals and students real decision-making power.

At a minimum, the Student Assignment Committee should also hear from Stanford University Professor Terry Moe, who would give the committee an alternative to the Mr. Alves politicized “controlled choice” option. The committee should also consider hearing from Dr. Jay Greene, who is the head of the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas and author of Education Myths: What Special-Interest Groups Want You to Believe About Our Schools and Why it Isn’t So.

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