What We Disagree About When We Disagree About School Choice
99 Iowa L. Rev. Bulletin 49 (2014)
13 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2014
Date Written: March 20, 2014
The debate over school vouchers, charter schools, and other varieties of school choice has become a bit stale. It would improve were advocates on all sides to acknowledge several crucial realities that they too often obfuscate. First, the debate is fundamentally normative, not empirical. The desirability of choice depends primarily upon how we weigh competing claims of equality and liberty in education. Second, all participants in the debate should acknowledge both that constrained choice is still genuine choice, and that how and to what extent parental decisions are constrained are fundamental issues in choice policy. Finally, with respect to the politics of choice, advocates and opponents should clearly distinguish arguments that choice is a first-best alternative from claims that it represents real and feasible improvement over the educational status quo.
Keywords: school choice, school vouchers, charter schools, segregation, interest convergence
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