by Dr. Terry Stoops
Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
Consider this passage from Rob Schofield of N.C. Policy Watch:
Think about it: School can be hard. You’re a parent with less-than-perfect recollections of your own school experience. The news is full of stories about school funding problems. The public school to which your child is assigned is a little dog-eared, a bit of a melting pot and somewhat intimidating. Maybe your child has special needs.
Now, all of a sudden, you’re presented with glossy brochures and websites promising something different and better: lower class sizes, brand new textbooks and computers, a “new and innovative” curriculum and a bright new school full of clean, happy, well-fed kids who look familiar. And better yet, the school is free and/or dramatically subsidized!
For Americans raised on the secular religion of modern consumerism, it’s easy to understand the allure of such a sales pitch – especially when the “competition” doesn’t even play the marketing game.
Translation: Parents are so impressionable that they can be convinced to send their child to a school based on advertising and sales pitches. Parents are just mindless consumers who lack the capacity for critical thinking and rational decision-making. It’s no different than convincing parents to select Nesquick over the store brand chocolate powder mix.
As cofounder of Carolina Charter Academy, I know from personal experience that parents ask tough questions and demand clear answers. I have hundreds of emails and social media messages from parents who asked us questions about curriculum, special education services, transportation, food service, discipline policies, and so on. They attended information sessions and open house events. They scheduled phone calls and meetings with school leaders. They asked charter school families about their experiences. In sum, parents are much more engaged than Mr. Schofield thinks.
But I expect no less from the Left, which wants the public to believe that the 20 percent of parents who select a private, charter, or home school have made irrational decisions that lead to irreversible social and educational harm.