This is a follow up to the last two posts on the New Jersey Star-Ledger’s editorial Giving poor families a leg up in charter schools.
In reply to my original comments, in which I promoted parental school choice, bayshore lady wrote:
We have school choice.All kids can attend the public schools in the district where they live.If their parents don't like those public schools,they can move to a district where they think the public schools are better.Or,they can send their kids to private or parochial schools,especially if the are,what you call,econmically successful The public schools in affluent areas tend to be as goo,if not better,than private and parochial schools. [sic]
Here is my reply to bayshore lady, slightly edited:
If you're forced to pay school taxes, no matter what—in effect paying double—you don't have real choice. Freedom of choice applies to your money, too, because your money is your ticket to the goods and services your life depends on. Money sucked in by the child’s assigned government school is not available for the parents to put toward what they judge to be better educational opportunities. True, people who can afford both school taxes and private school tuition can choose. But for most people, it’s not financially doable.
Likewise, to force someone to uproot and move in order to utilize a school that may be a few blocks or miles away is not freedom of choice. It is cruel. It’s true that schools in affluent communities tend to be better, although even there they may not meet the needs of all kids. But, since home prices tend to also be higher there, not everyone can afford to live in affluent communities.
What your essentially saying is that only wealthy parents should have anything approaching freedom of school choice. But then that very reality is behind the charter school movement, which is a movement of the poor. Less than wealthy parents want a better education for their kids, too.
The bottom line is, if the public schools are so good—“as good, if not better,” as you say, “than private and parochial schools”—why do they need force of compulsory education laws and taxation to survive? Wouldn't parents be voluntarily willing to send their kids to the government schools, and be voluntarily willing to pay for them? Why does the government school Establishment fear competition? The Establishment knows the answer, which is why it is so vested in the reactionary, anti-choice agenda.
There shouldn’t be tax-funded schools, because no one should be forced to pay for the education of someone else’s child. But Americans are committed to guaranteeing every child the financial resources to get a K-12 education. So education taxes are here to stay, for now and for the foreseeable future. But that doesn’t mean education has to be dominated by a government-run monopoly. A robust, universal school choice system within the context of the existing education tax structure, such as the one I laid out here, is the moral thing to do.
Education Funding: Let Taxpayers Direct Their Own Education Dollars