It’s April. The school year is winding down. Only 5 more weeks left of school. And yet, students are changing schools. Let’s take a typical 4th grade classroom. At the start of the year there were 4 new students in the teacher’s class. In November, she picks up one more. In December she loses one. Come January, a new one comes in. Now it’s April, and yet another student is enrolled. Is this a transient school you might ask? No. In years past, it was a very stable school with very little change in enrollment, especially throughout the year. What has changed? School Choice.
According to https://www.edchoice.org/school-choice/what-is-school-choice/, “School choice allows public education funds to follow students to the schools or services that best fit their needs—whether that’s to a public school, private school, charter school, home school or any other learning environment parents choose for their kids.”
This means that students not only have a choice of which public school to go to, even if they live out of the attendance area, they can also go to a charter school of their choice or to a private school.
That all sounds really good, but with school choice there are many issues.
Here are just a few.
Kids are not learning
When a district offers school choice, often time parents will move their kids around to a new school anytime something occurs that they don’t like. There are children who change schools every year! In these cases students do not learn the important social skills they can when they stay in the same school, and they also get the message that if you don’t like something, you can just go somewhere else. Kids do not learn how to deal with problems that they will face after school.
Classrooms have transient populations
Classroom teachers face transient classrooms, where students come and go. This causes issues with the classroom community.
Often times children become yoyos between public schools and charter/private schools. A child will move to a charter/private school because the parents are not “happy” with the school. Then after a while the student may get “kicked out” of the charter school for behavioral issues, and then the child comes back to the public school. Charter and private schools can dismiss students from their schools, public schools cannot.
Schools are becoming segregated
Let’s not jump back to the 1950s, please! The desegregation of schools was a huge positive impact on children and our future. You might think that having school choice might enable kids with less resources to go to a “better” school. Unfortunately the opposite is occurring. In what was once a balanced school with a mix of race and socio economic status, we are beginning to see a school full of mostly poor minority children. In many of these schools, there has become a mass exodus of white, more privileged kids, who are moving to the “better” schools, the “whiter” schools. The white “privileged” kids have the opportunities to switch schools, the minorities with little resources, do not.
Don’t Forget Who is Behind School Choice
So who wants school choice, really. The people who want it the most are not parents, teachers or children. They are politicians who want to privatize education and deplete public education as we know it. They stand to make millions of dollars through school vouchers. It’s great for them, and great for the few kids who have the money and resources to go to a different school. It’s bad for the majority of students, teachers and the future of education.