The time has come to return to a topic that is close to my heart: public education. I am currently studying to be an elementary school teacher, so public education is one of the most important things in my life. Nothing, then, can get me more riled up than threats to what I believe to be the most important thing provided to young children by the government. Unfortunately, not everyone feels the way I do, and don’t value public education in spite of making important decisions about public education.
That’s right! We’re back to Betsy DeVos and school choice! As a reminder, DeVos’ platform for education is school choice. School choice means allowing parents to choose what school their child will attend, and federal tax dollars will be given to that school, be it public, private or charter. What this ends up doing is pulling funds away from public schools, encouraging the privatization and a reduction of diversity in schools. In a previous post, I alluded to Brown v. The Board of Education to point out why this is grossly unfair. The decision made in this court case determined the most fundamental principle of education, which is that separate is NOT equal.
How exactly is school choice made separate through inequality? I am so glad you asked! One problem is that tax money goes to private institutions who get to pick and choose their students. Public funds should go to public schools, and public schools serve all students, regardless of race, gender, ability, or social economic status. To use public funds for any institution of education that discriminates on these basis is fundamentally unequal. School choice is meant to improve education, but simply put, it does not. It funnels money into schools that are run privately and make their own standards, not to mention can be selective in their acceptance of students. Oftentimes, these schools do not have a place for, say, students with disabilities, because they do not provide appropriate services, thus rejecting them from their learning community. Students with low Socioeconomic status may not be able to afford transportation or materials or uniforms for a private school, so even though technically they could go there, they to are barred by a status. What happens, in a nut shell, it that public schools become underfunded, but have the students with the highest needs while the best students are cherry picked and taken by private institutions. This separation is a fundamental inequality. It harms learning, and is flat out unconstitutional.