There is a right way to criticize school choice programs and a wrong way. The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. chose poorly. While arguing against vouchers for low-income students, the editorial board wrote,
“Advocates hailed this “opportunity scholarship” program as a way to help poor families, a group Republicans have shown little interest in otherwise. But in this case, those families are a convenient political tool for conservatives …”
Really? Arguing that low-income people are tools if, and only if, they ally with your political opponents, sounds a bit elitist and entitled. Progressives do not own a monopoly on serving the interests of disadvantaged families (and frankly, believing that conservatives never care about the poor demonstrates a sophomoric understanding of politics). If the current education model doesn’t work, low-income families are under no obligation to support a side that wants to maintain the status quo.
Besides, this isn’t a Democrat vs. Republican issue. Democrats in North Carolina are already joining forces to support school choice programs throughout the state.
Grade: Needs Improvement
Critics of school choice have been pummeling Sweden for the last year as if it was some sort of smoking gun that proves vouchers don’t work. Two things are at play: Sweden has universal school choice. And among other developed nations, it has seen some of the sharpest declines in international test scores.
Some very simplistic analyses, including a recent Slate article by an economist at Columbia, saw the correlation and concluded private schools and school choice were at fault.