I generally like to shy away from the school choice debate over here mainly because there are diverging opinions about it among our community. Even though I personally favor some school choice programs (and the idea that parents should have control) there are valid concerns about strings being attached to school choice programs.
A prime example was how Indiana’s voucher program pushed Common Core into private schools in the Hoosier State. So there are legitimate arguments against certain programs, and I think almost all of us can oppose any school choice efforts coming from the federal level.
The argument that Katherine Stewart at The New York Times makes isn’t one of those arguments, however. She said that school choice, aka “attacks” on public schools, harkens back to racism
But the attacks on “government schools” have a much older, darker heritage. They have their roots in American slavery, Jim Crow-era segregation, anti-Catholic sentiment and a particular form of Christian fundamentalism — and those roots are still visible today.
I find it ironic that she addresses “anti-Catholic sentiment” when the biggest road blocks for school choice is Blaine Amendment language adopted by many states that actually comes from “anti-Catholic sentiment.”
David French at the National Review responds to Stewart’s piece.
Why do libertarians and Christians intentionally increasingly use the term “government schools” to describe public education? First, because it’s true. Public schools are government schools. Second, because it’s clarifying. Too many Americans are stuck in a time warp, believing that the local school is somehow “their” school. They don’t understand that public education is increasingly centralized — teaching a uniform curriculum, teaching a particular, secular set of values, and following priorities set in Washington, not by their local school board. The phrase is helpful for breaking through idealism and getting parents to analyze and understand the gritty reality of modern public education. The phrase works.
And so it must be squashed. And there’s no better way to discredit any modern idea than by tying it to a Confederate past. It’s certainly easier than addressing the core of the fundamental idea — that it’s better for America if more parents enjoy the educational choices that wealthy progressives take for granted.
I don’t agree with everything French says in his piece, but it stands to reason that we do not prop up straw man arguments to respond to a policy we do not like. Ultimately parents who want school choice like it because they want options and control over how their children are educated and it has nothing to do with race.