The “School Choice” Reformers Never Promote

In the third chapter of Diane Ravitch’s new book “Reign of Error” she points out that what Reformers call “Choice” is really privatization. The measures they promote- vouchers and charters schools, all work toward undermining public schools systems. They NEVER promote measures that enhance parent choice WITHIN public school systems. There are two such options which I think BATS should embrace:

1. Radically expanding the number of public “portfolio schools” which are exempt from state and national tests and which rate students on the basis of assessments of their classwork developed by teachers. There are several such schools in New York City which are highly successful, but their number has been capped by the city and state departments of education. Why not give teachers and administrators a chance to create many more such schools all over the country, as an alternative to the test centered schools following a one size fits all curriculum. That would give parents a real choice while allowing teachers to maintain the union protections they have in public schools that are lacking in most charter schools

2. Create, or recreate the vocational and technical high schools that were once a fixture in every American city, and give them full or partial exemptions from state tests. Let these schools to be targeted to growth areas in the American economy as well as sectors where high wage jobs have existed for a long time- construction, automobile and elevator repair, computers and the like. These schools would give parents a most welcome alternative to schools which feature little more than test prep and no direct job preparation. And would create positions for a new generation of teachers who would love their jobs.

Think about these options. If you were a parent, wouldn’t you want to have choices like this for a child

Then how come no major Reformer is pushing for them? Makes you wonder, doesn’t it, whether as Diane Ravitch reminds us, what they call choice really means Privatization and Profit.