Saturday, June 18, 2016

Favoring Poor Kids in Charter School Applications is Unfair

Charter schools are tax-funded, so the admissions policy should be unbiased. You’d think that simple statement would be uncontroversial. But not to some. The New Jersey Star-Ledger editorialized in favor of allowing charter schools to “weight” their admissions policies toward “disadvantaged” kids.

In response to Giving poor families a leg up in charter schools, I left these comments:

So some kid whose parents happen to be economically successful will be denied a better education because some other kid’s parents happen to have incomes that fit statistically into an arbitrary category labeled “poor.”

The unfairness of this method should be uncontroversial. But that’s what happens when you identify people according to some economic group: You lose sight of actual individual students. And that’s the problem with education collectivists: They don’t actually give a d__n about actual kids.

The Hola scheme is designed to disadvantage kids on behalf of “disadvantaged” kids. That’s the kind of Orwellian idiocy you get from social collectivists who obsess over  “racial balance” or “a student body that reflects and represents the community” or condemn successful charter’s for having an “unfair advantage” or helping “the neediest students” (whatever that means).

Hola’s scheme is corrupt. But it does expose a real problem: The demand for charter schools exceeds the supply. What’s needed is more school choice. That can mean more charters, for sure. But universal education tax credits for private school attendance or homeschooling can expand the supply of choices available to all students, “disadvantaged” and “rich” alike. A “rich” kid whose parents can afford a private school because of tax credits could leave a charter opening for the “poor” kid.

One thing that all decent parents have in common, regardless of income, race, or what have you, is a desire to get their kids the best possible education. They also have the moral right to choose the best options available, and should have the legal right to choose without government impediments. It’s obvious that there are not enough quality educational options available to satisfy all parents, thanks in large part to the smothering effect of the government school establishment. We need more school choice. No kid’s education should ever be sacrificed for the sake of some other kid. A free, or at least freer, market in education should be the goal of education reformers so that all kids have realistic options. For the hollow phrase “no child left behind” to be given any real meaning, parents must be free to direct the course of their own children’s education.


Once again, charters are tax funded, meaning they are theoretically “owned” by all of us. Therefor, admissions policies should be fair and unbiased. Private schools, on the other hand, have a right to admit who they want based on whatever criteria they choose.

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