Signs Of Progress For School Choice
In today’s Washington Post, George Will writes about what may be signs that the battle for school choice has taken a turn:
The public school lobby, which apparently has little confidence in its product, lives in fear of competition — the fear that if parents’ choices are expanded, there will be a flight from public schools. But the tide is turning:
Newark’s mayor, Cory Booker, a member of the board of the national Alliance for School Choice, proposes a scholarship program similar to Arizona’s. New Jersey corporations could get tax credits totaling $20 million a year collectively for scholarships for low-income students in five cities with especially troubled schools.
New York’s new Democratic governor, Eliot L. Spitzer, proposes lifting the cap that restricts the state to a mere 100 charter schools. This common-sense idea — lowering a barrier the government has erected to limit innovative schools that compete with the government’s existing system — is welcome, but it is not as bold as what Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is doing with the nation’s largest school system, New York City’s, with 1.1 million pupils.
He is dividing large schools into smaller ones, emancipating many principals to be educational entrepreneurs under a system that holds them accountable for cognitive results. The logic is that public money should follow wherever students are attracted by competing schools. So school choice is gaining ground in the city that has historically been ground zero for collectivist, centralizing liberalism.
If that’s not progress, I don’t know what is.