Steps in the Right Direction

student-at-desk.jpgThese days it’s becoming increasingly clear that resistance to school choice is nothing more and nothing less than excuse-making for  a failing bureaucracy.   This makes sense:  Our current system doles out billions of dollars of benefits to adults and the special interests who control the status quo and they feel threatened by school choice, a system that puts parents in control of education dollars. Meanwhile, children suffer because parents aren’t able to choose the best schools for their kids.

How can we change this misplaced focus on adults’ interests over children’s well-being? Maybe we should begin our reform efforts by remembering the most sage advice proffered in modern political history: Follow the money.

School choice advocates believe that children are what really matters, not the systems and bureaucratic labyrinths created by adults (mainly for the purpose of employing adults, not teaching kids). In that vein, a group of advocates for limited school choice has come up with a system called “weighted student funding.” Their bottom line: fund the child, not the system. Which school-buildings should get the most funding? The ones that educate the most children. And there’s the beauty of it: parents must be free to choose where their kids go to school.

That’s the good part of the proposal. The bad part of the proposal is that it discriminates against independent schools, church schools, home schools, etc. by prohibitng these sorts of choices outright. People are so opposed to letting parents opt out of the one-size-fits-all government system that they’ll do anything to stop it. Weighted student funding says “okay, we won’t get the whole loaf. But kids have to be able to get into better public schools.”

Unfortunately, increasing competition by providing real options and giving everyone a level playing field is the only way to ensures that we improve schools as fast as possible. Also, discriminating against parents with minority preferences—whether it’s their religious views or desire for home schooling, alternative curriculum, etc.—is just plain wrong.

Still weighted student funding—letting parents choose better schools for their children—is an improvement over what we have now.

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