Defending the Indefensible

Government school bureaucrats are circling the wagons. They believe that their fiefdoms are under assault by charter schools and school voucher advocates. In response, bureaucrats from at least twenty-five local school districts have formed a coalition to improve the government school “brand.”

The organization—Go Public Gulf Coast—is divided on the issue of working with charter schools. Cy-Fair ISD Superintendent Mark Henry opposes cooperating with charter schools:

“I view this as a universal traditional public school organization,” Henry said. “I’m not against public charter school cooperation, but for-profit and even nonprofit charters, I don’t think they do anything positive for our school districts.”

Charter schools operate with fewer government regulations and controls, as well as a budget that is $1,400 per student less than traditional government schools. Bureaucrats like Henry aren’t interested in learning how charter schools operate more efficiently and more effectively. They are only interested in protecting their turf.

If government school bureaucrats were truly interested in improving education, they would welcome any opportunity to do so. They would welcome the ideas and systems that charter schools could offer. Instead, they consider charter schools to be mortal enemies and have shut their minds to anything charter schools could offer.

Christine Isett, director of communications for the Texas Charter Schools Association, disagreed with Henry:

“Anything that increases quality of public school options for students, whether traditional or charter, we’re for that. If charters create competition and increase performance of school districts, who wins? The kids,” Isett said. “This us-vs.-them dialogue is not helpful.”

Unlike Henry, Isett doesn’t shy away from competition and seems to have the best interest of students in mind. But she could, and should, advocate for abolishing government schools and creating a truly competitive market in education.

That government school advocates are opposed to anything that gives parents more choices is revealing. They obviously have little confidence in their ability to attract students when parents have more options. Instead, they want to defend a system that relies on coercion for both its funding and its customers.

Morally, that system is indefensible. It is time for rational Texans to recognize that fact and get government out of education.

2 comments to Defending the Indefensible

  • James

    As a tactical move I’m dubious about demands to dismantle the government school system. It’s not that I don’t consider it morally bankrupt; it’s just that we won’t, in the current day and age, convince people that it should be abolished. The problem right now is that private schools are abnormal; they are something for rich people or weird people (Creationists and the like). THAT is what we need to change. Once sending children to private schools becomes the norm, and sending them to government schools becomes weird or–ideally–shameful, even if we don’t succeed in removing government schools we’ve defanged them.

    • Brian Phillips

      I’m certainly under no delusions that government schools will be abolished any time soon. However, a growing number of people support the idea of school choice and a completely private educational system is the ultimate in school choice. My thinking is: articulate the long-term goal and support measures that move us in that direction.