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I Believe in Freedom of Choice


I Believe in Freedom of Choice

Diane Ravitch

Parents should be able to send their children to the school of their choice, and they do; but the public should not be expected to pay for their private choices.

The public has a civic obligation to support public education. Even if you don't have children, you pay taxes to educate the children of the community. Even if your children are grown, you pay school taxes. Even if you send your children to private school, you pay school taxes. Public schools are a public responsibility.


How sad to hear a leading expert on education recommend we condemn inner city children to an educational wasteland when there is an alternative. We've lived in several metropolitan regions around the country over the last 20 years. In every case, the school system of the central city has been in chaos and delivering substandard results for its students. Meanwhile, the suburban school districts achieve higher standards with less spending per student. When we lived in Omaha, the city schools made a play to forceably annex a suburban school system to get those students higher proficiency scores. They stopped when they realized they would be forced to either almost double the per student spending in the suburban district or reduce spending in the rest of the system to achieve parity.

Families with means can afford to escape a failing school system, either by private schools or by moving to a better school district. Meanwhile, poor families who value a good education are trapped with no option other than to keep praying for miracles that never come.

How cold and callous of Ms Ravitch to keep these poor families in their place rather than offer them hope for their children.


A city like Camden, NJ, is one of the poorest and most crime ridden cities in the nation, with violence, murders, gangs, high unemployment, homelessness and many kids for whom English is not their main language. And all these problems are not supposed to affect the schools??? Really? These phony baloney charter schools cherry pick their students, don’t enroll the kids with the most serious problems and counsel out the kids who “don’t fit in” with their supposed miracle school. Charter schools drain funds and resources from the actual real schools that are struggling with the most serious and more expensive special needs students. The media always portray charter schools as wonderful and the real public schools as failure factories. It’s like blaming the schools for all the crime and poverty in many of the urban centers. The urban schools need more special services for the kids who are at risk, more counselors, more child study teams, more child psychologists and more wrap around services. All that costs money but many of these GOP governors and some Democrats like Rahm Emanuel and Cuomo of NY are cutting funding to schools, closing the real public schools to open up charter schools or t co-locate a charter school in an existing public school.