Now that the hustle and bustle of the appointment of Betsy Devos has become a reality, schools are now faced with the potential impact that school choice may have on their community of parents and learners. For school superintendents there is good news and bad news. School choice can become problematic for superintendents that are going to take the sit back and wait approach to this challenge.
School choice has a track record of failure that can not be hidden. For example, Betsy DeVos has worked in Michigan Schools for years. School choice was problematic for youths who depended on public transportation to attend far away top performing school districts. School choice is problematic when transportation needs become a challenge for the student.
School choice is problematic when implemented in a widespread fashion. Present voucher systems have failed to improve student outcomes when enacted widely. In cities where voucher use was more widespread – such as Dayton and Toledo in Ohio – there was no effect on students’ performance. To add insult to injury, the pro-voucher Fordham Foundation could not arrive at a sanguine assessment of Ohio’s program. “We did not expect – or, frankly, wish – to see these negative effects for voucher participants,” the researchers wrote. School choice will not work as a district wide initiative.
Finally, school choice will not help students that the president has promised to help. School choice programming will have the latitude to formally and informally select students. This form of discrimination will enable top schools to exclude students who are not able to meet their academic standards. This is a well know practice in many charter schools. For example, a principal in a New Orleans charter school admitted that one successful school strategy included not enrolling students who were a risk of lowering their overall test scores. With these types of failures, how can the school choice alternative survive?
What strategies help to make school choice attractive?
School choice advocates are using marketing as their primary vehicle to help their cause. School choice is an umbrella term for the broad philosophy that students should not have to attend their geographically assigned public school, giving parents more freedom in selecting schools. It can encompass policies such as vouchers to subsidize tuition at private and charter schools to serve as alternatives to traditional public education.
School choice advocates are using terms such as “Freedom”. Which is a great interest for any citizen in the United States especially the marginalized. No citizen or other political affiliation can argue with the term freedom. School choice advocates extend the freedom concept by claiming that the freedom choice is extended to parents. Advocates continue their assault in claiming that school choice is an alternative to traditional schools that many believe are failing and have failed the students that they have serviced. The final argument includes that there is no harm in giving disadvantaged students an opportunity to attend schools that have more resources. The overall school choice marketing program includes:
- Freedom of Choice
- Parental Empowerment
- Student Empowerment
- Access to Additional School Resources
This is where school superintendents need to begin their programming to maintain the present status of students. School superintendents will need to evaluate the cultures of their school for the perception of freedom, parental and student empowerment, and provisions for additional school resources as their marketing platform.
However, school superintendents are going to make the following errors:
- Develop a vision and mission statement that is exclusive of parental input
- Develop student programming that is exclusive of community input
- Develop a school budget that is exclusive of community input
While some schools do include input via school board meetings, the real input needs to start at the beginning stage of development. School superintendents can survive the school choice program assault by implementing a team building process that includes input from the local community in the specified areas.
All the best,
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships and Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology
The Raccelerate Phenomenon
Treasures of Hidden Racism in Education
“Dr. Campbell did his part and now all we have to do is run with it.”
~ Tom Coleman ~
Woodstown-Pilesgrove Public Schools Superintendent of Schools
“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”.
~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor
“Dr. Campbell’s Cultural Relationship Training Program is comprehensive, informative, and should be required training for all schools”
~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President