I am responding to Kate Day’s letter favoring school choice. Day would have us believe that the GOP, the party that is suppressing the Black vote, is very interested in the education of Black children. That is quite a stretch.
School choice is a code phrase for destroying public education. The GOP wants to defund public schools and hand over the money to private schools that often deny acceptance to children with special needs and also often hire non-certified teachers. The research shows that certified teachers have the most positive impact on student achievement.
School choice is a bad idea because it drains public schools of much-needed funds. Parents have always had the choice to send their children to private schools, but not at the taxpayers’ expense.
There is also the issue of church/state separation and taxpayers should not have to pay for religious instruction. The GOP essentially works for the one percent and it is well known that if a policy of program does not benefit the rich, they work vigorously, through their tool, the GOP, to eliminate it.
Contrast this with Finland that has the best public schools, the highest paid teachers, the highest achievement tests, and the strongest teachers’ unions. It’s hard to even find a private school in Finland because they can’t compete with the excellent public schools. When a school is not doing well in Finland, all the resources of the country go to that school until it comes up to par; whereas in the U.S., funds are withdrawn from failing schools and given over to private schools. It’s called throwing out the baby with the bath water.
What we need in the U.S. is to move away from the goal of adequacy and move toward the goals of equity and excellence — the sequence that Finland followed when it resolved to improve its educational system years ago.
School choice is a divisive idea and practice and it undermines the concept of the commons. The majority of Americans can read and write well thanks to public education. We need to elevate public education and give greater respect to public school teachers who often have to buy school supplies with their own money.
A public school education and democracy go hand-in-hand and it’s too bad that many Republicans are opposed to both of them.
LEO R. SANDY