Here’s a great piece by Julia Steiny–about the children and families left behind with school choice options. While she supports those options, she raises concerns about the children left in the regular schools.

We’ve always known that, with choice options, most children and families will be left behind in schools that come to have an even greater concentration of needs. This piece states the case well.  Thus, choice, which Steiny supports, has unintended consequences. 

However, I have two concerns with the piece.
First–she suggests that states do something about this issue.  And I say, where is the notion that parents, too, have a responsibility. At what point does their role come to play? In this piece, Denny’s mother and father should have a job to do to help Denny at school and, if they choose, to help Denny apply to a school choice option. They can’t. They won’t. They don’t–and the piece says nothing about that. Just about the state doing something.  I don’t believe that getting more programs by states is the answer.  It’s time to tackle the issue at home.
Second- I am saddened that the analogy chosen here is to ‘shopping.’  Shopping is the American way and parents now shop for schools–so it says.   A major concern that many of us have about schools is that they are now in the consumer business. The customer is always right. Please the customer, etc.   It’s a problem.  “Hey, I sent my child here and he’s not getting a C. I want him to have a B or an A.”   Teachers now have to educate kids but also please parents as consumers–not as partners in education.  Let’s change the analogy please!

And what about a different option–not school choice–but closing all private schools and concentrating everyone’s children in the public schools. That, too, will improve them for all kids and I suspect, quicker than by opening the door for some kids to leave. Just a thought!  And yours?

About Miriam

Miriam Kurtzig Freedman, JD, MA—an expert in public education, focused on special education law— is a lawyer, author, speaker, consultant, and reformer. For more than 35 years, Miriam worked with educators, parents, policy makers, and citizens to translate complex legalese into plain English and focus on good practices for children. Now, she focuses her passion on reforming special education, with her new book, Special Education 2.0—Breaking Taboos to Build a NEW Education Law. Presentations include those at the AASA Conference, Orange County (CA), Boston College (MA), CADRE (OR), and the Fordham Institute (DC). Her writings have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Education Week, Education Next, Hoover Digest, The University of Chicago Law Review on line,, and The Atlantic Monthly on line.

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