It's a return to Ragtime for the latest musical craze sweeping our city: the School Choice Rag. The beat is a three-part harmony: 1. Stop funding public schools, 2. Declare them failing, and 3. Endorse choice at every turn!
The Tribune's op-ed "It's time for school choice in Illinois" cranks up the volume on school choice to a deafening level. Trendy as choice is, the op-ed loses its beat from the start:
- Leading with a 2010 quote from City Clerk Susana Mendoza about the lone educational choice parents have, "...to send their child to a poor, overcrowded, and failing school." Ms. Mendoza shows she's a choice fan from way back based on her not one, but two trips, to Turkey courtesy of Fetullah Gulen's Niagara Foundation (Cha-ching!). So inspiring must these trips have been that she visited the Gulen-centric Chicago Math & Science Academy to videotape a testimonial.
- Citing New Orleans as an education revolution of epic proportions. Yet, blogger Mercedes Schneider has found New Orleans and their change-making ways to be an education devolution of epic failure. Schneider specifically highlights a failed New Orleans school voucher program coupled with jug-headed John Arnold's misguided contributions as nothing more than a PR ploy.
- Touting Cleveland--and the entire Buckeye State--as savvy choice operators. Instead, Ohio has a rich charter operator (cha-ching!) whose schools continually rank below Ohio's urban districts. Also, an NPR report shows that Ohio perpetually has a number of unused vouchers.
- The Editorial Board hedges its praise only in the slightest by the gentle criticism of vouchers stating, "[they] don't always perform miracles." Is Joan of Arc on the Board of Education or is that just BOE member Deborah Quazzo?
Yet, pricey ZIP codes win every time. No school voucher system will solve this:
- An $18 million dollar Lincoln School annex (ZIP Code: 60614, average home price: $461,000).
- The planned opening of GEMS World Academy, a Dubai-run school where tuition will run an astonishing $31,000 - $37,000. (ZIP Code: 60601, average home price: $386,000)
- Bruce Rauner's clout nonsense to get his daughter into Walter Payton College Prep. (Rauner has too many zip codes list, but know he owns homes that range from a New York penthouse to a Livingston, Montana ranch.)
If a mainstream media outlet in Chicago wanted to be truly bold, it would begin a discussion about poverty in our city and why what we're currently doing to solve the problem doesn't work. Along with this might be the realization that until poverty is addressed, successful changes will be few and far between. But nobody wants to sing that song, instead they want to keep doing that old School Choice Rag.