BY SHARON MARTIN
Are the homes in your school district mansions or something more modest? Do lawns sweep to wide avenues or do houses crouch beside broken streets. What’s the average income? The greater the incomes and the higher the property values, the more money a school district gets.
Parents who live in poorly-funded districts desperately want school choice to mean a better education for their children. And it might give a few students an opportunity. But what it really means is that some of your tax dollars will be taken from public schools, many of which get precious few dollars already, and be given to private schools. In exchange for robbing public schools of the dollars they need, these private schools will have to choose a few students, their choice, not yours.
Students left in the public schools will have even fewer resources when it all shakes out. But, hey, those kids aren’t going to succeed anyway. Those crumbling school districts won’t notice a few more dollars gone.
The folks who champion school choice seem to have a philosophy of chosen few. We are the chosen. Our buddies in private business deserve your tax dollars. Not everyone needs opportunity; some would just squander it.
This is not what public education is about, however.
Public education is social justice. It would have us use tax dollars wisely to educate every child. It demands we fix a system that has been undermined by programs that intentionally raise the bar before a student can jump over it. Schools can have everything they need if we change a few things: Fund schools fairly.
Quit spending millions of dollars on one more test. Tests don’t make kids smarter; they just make testing companies richer.
Quit giving a few textbook companies all the literature dollars. Real books and teachers who read them will go farther to make kids readers than any number of textbooks.
Don’t siphon off public money for private businesses. Instead, return real instruction to the classroom. Give competent teachers a voice. Oklahoma teachers are among the best educated in the nation. They deserve respect for their knowledge and the role they play in building a democratic nation.
Democracy depends on an educated citizenry. It demands critical thinking so voters can see through those who try to sell the public a jalopy dressed up in a fancy coat of paint.
When voters drive school choice off the lot, they are going to be awfully disappointed with what they bought.
– Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer