North Texas Daily

DeVos’ school choice is not ideal

DeVos’ school choice is not ideal

DeVos’ school choice is not ideal
March 21
23:22 2018

From practically the beginning of Betsy DeVos’ role as a public figure and political proponent she has been crystal clear in her support of the concept of school choice.

School choice is the concept that any student should be allowed to take the money the government has allotted for their personal education to any institution of their or their parents’ choosing whether it be private, chartered or religious in nature.

On the surface, it sounds ingenious. Who doesn’t like having choices?

Many students and parents are fed up with their schools’ rather lackluster performances and the idea of escaping them sounds wonderful.

I learned about the idea of school choice a few years before Betsy DeVos even took office as the Secretary of Education, and I’ll be honest, when I first heard about it I thought it was a fantastic idea.

When the issue of school choice became a topic of national conversation, I began to see cracks in what I had once thought was a brilliant solution.

Dallas has some of the most well-regarded magnet schools in the country, in fact, TAG, The School for the Talented and Gifted, has been ranked as one of the best in America. Magnet schools, while slightly different from Charter schools, are similar in that by and large they divert funds from traditional public schools.

There is no doubt the magnet program in Dallas has been successful in producing extremely high performing institutions. In many cases private, magnet and charter schools give students great opportunities. But why aren’t our traditional public schools just as good? These alternative institutions often argue that they are trying to give students options. They argue that their existence allows students to pursue avenues that truly invigorate them and to be taught in ways that genuinely enlighten them.

I would agree these are admirable goals for education, but I would hate to think they are things that cannot be incorporated into traditional public institutions.

I think it’s entirely possible to institute programs in schools that exalt all the same educational virtues that these alternative options do while still keeping money in our widespread, well-established public schools.

Advanced Placement classes help prepare students for college, and while these classes are available in many high schools across the nation their dispersal is still quite uneven.

I’ve had friends and family who attended more rural high schools where there were only a few AP classes available on campus or in order to take AP courses they would have had to be bussed to another school in the surrounding area. Even fewer schools have what is called the International Baccalaureate diploma program.

I was lucky enough that my school did have this program, and I can say that it without a doubt prepared me for college and employed teaching techniques that helped to make me a better student. Often those in the poorest districts have to jump through so many more hurdles to even take these courses.

While many will argue school choice helps lower-income students leave inferior institutions, there’s a great deal of reason to believe that the concept doesn’t really help impoverished students. School choice is a great option if you have the money to spend on gas or have a parent at home that could take the time to drive you to school every day, but if you don’t then it’s not really an option at all.

The issue of transportation keeps students most in need of a better education stuck at a school that is progressively being drained of resources as more well-off students flee to charter or private schools.

Every day, public schools are boldly trying to put into place programs that would allow students to focus on their passions, be taught in a way that really makes sense to them and ultimately have a choice in their education.

But if Betsy DeVos and others like her consistently advocate that the American traditional public education system is beyond saving then they will never have the funds necessary to bring these ideas to fruition.

Featured Image: Illustration by Austin Banzon

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Macy Jackson

Macy Jackson

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