by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
… [T]here is no One Way forward. Consider the rich variety in America’s education landscape.
There are the government school defenders whose focus isn’t so much on learning, but on the philosophical belief that public education is really about improving “citizenship.” But there are well performing government schools.
There are the teachers union supporters whose focus is on vocational preservation and political power rather than on achieving viable outcomes. But there are very good teachers who are union members.
There are home school advocates who can be isolationist in their championing the literal ownership of their children’s education. But they have forced higher education to take them seriously.
There are charter school supporters who work within the government school structure to strip out bureaucracy to create successful institutions, though they are susceptible to criticisms that they still take a certain “cream of the crop.”
There are private school-only elites for whom school reform is an esoteric question, but whose passions have created and funded institutions aimed at the most at-risk children.
Reforming education is ultimately about choice. But choice for all does not mean all get the same choice. We live in a society of disparate opportunities, talents, values, and consequences. Choice for all is free enterprise. All getting the same choice is socialism. If we are going to progress, we need to come to terms with the distinction. Unfortunately, that will be a non-starter for many.
We must stop the ideological tit-for-tat that dominates the right and left debate over education. You want reform? Recognize there is no one solution. Start by favoring any good educational setting, no matter what form it takes. And do away with any bad educational setting, in whatever form it takes.