By: Philip White
Can you send your child or grandchild to the school of your choice? Can you decide exactly where you child or grandchild will attend a k-12 school? Can you choose a k-12 school with an excellent reputation for producing productive and well -educated citizens? Can you send your child or grandchildren to a school with the curriculum emphasis or career focus that you desire for the children’s future?
If you can say yes to the above questions, you indeed have school choice. If you have the resources, connections, wherewithal, or desirable home location, you have the capacity to decide where your child or grandchild will attend school.
If you can’t send your child or grandchild to the school of your choice, you absolutely don’t have school choice. When politicians propose school choice as a means of providing a quality education for its community’s children, it does not necessarily mean a quality education for all of the community’s children. Politicians, educational gurus, and so called educational experts, might propose school choice as a school reform component, but that’s not their primary interests.
Their interests lie in exercising the power, influence and control of a community’s resources, culture, heritage and traditions. Many in any community’s power and formal leadership core, are quite willing to experiment with the lives of poor and disenfranchised segments of the community, but would never subject their own children to the experimental educational reform models.
Recently, during the Senate hearings for Betsy DeVos, the Trump nominee for the United States Secretary of Education, Minnesota Senator Al Franken asked DeVos if she or her children ever attended a public school. Franken asked DeVos if she ever worked in a public school. DeVos responded no to all of Franken’s questions, but DeVos indicated that she was a mentor for a few public-school students. Veterans of the New Orleans educational system should recognize that if anyone would ever ask New Orleans’ Betsy DeVos the same questions that Franken asked DeVos, New Orleans’s Betsy DeVos (Leslie Jacobs) would have similar answers as DeVos.
If your child or grandchildren are subject to this New Orleans model of so called “School Choice” named One App, do you have the freedom to choose the school of your choice? If your child is subject to a “random” selection process where your first three school selections are not honored, you definitely don’t have a choice. Your child must attend the school assigned by the One App Process. If you find yourself in this situation, you should demand your elected officials accept responsibility for this debacle or modify his or her position. Don’t forget you elected those officials to represent your interests, so hold them accountable for doing the right thing for your children or grandchildren.
In this era of school reform and school choice, a real paradigm shift must be implemented in order for the entire community to advance. The community must transition from the maintenance of the status quo, where the all of decision making remain in the hands of the power elite, to a broader and more global perspective that includes providing equity and opportunity for all.
If the community is to improve, a more holistic approach must be implemented. A broader economic approach must be implemented. Greater resources must be allocated to the economic development of the entire community. Capacity must expand. A greater entrepreneurial spirit must be developed within an entire community. As the economic disenfranchised become full participants in creating living wage economic opportunities, school choice becomes less important.
In dynamic and progressive communities where there is full and living wage employment for the adults, there is a direct correlation to viable, productive schools. Fully functional and economically dynamic communities create school communities that provide quality educational opportunities for the entire community. Those are the environments where real school choice exists.
Real school choice is when the entire community decides to create a quality learning and living environment for everybody. When the entire community is vested in the success of the entire community, school choice becomes an irrelevant issue.
When and where every school in the community is considered by all as a quality school, nobody participates in a lottery to attend a specific school