The tragedy of the discussion around “school choice” in America is the hidden presumption that “school choice” doesn’t exist already. But it does — for the privileged. This is not only a matter of the privileged being able to afford private schools, but also the fact that, through the public school catchment system, the real estate market is really the market for schools. Every family in America wants to buy a house in a place where there are good schools. Every commonwealth tries to boost real estate values by improving schools. That’s how the system works. The rich get school choice, the poor get… whatever.
The drive for school choice is not a drive to turn schools into a marketplace, it’s only to give the poor a way to access the preexisting market, which is currently closed off to them.
Charter schools are a step in the right direction, but the future should belong to K-12 spending accounts, whereby parents can spend their tuition dollars not just on a specific school but on a broad panel of educational activities, including internships, apprenticeships, and more. Families could pool accounts together and the poor and disabled would received fatter accounts.
I wholeheartedly agree. Madison is exhibit 1. Decades of monolithic K-12 governence combined with spending double the national average per student has failed to address its long term disastrous reading results.