Kern Alexander: Why school choice will never succeed and harms society

by Diane Ravitch   /   Feb 17, 2016

School choice

Diane Ravitch’s blog, an online forum that discusses ways to enhance education, recently brought to attention a 2012 Journal of Education Finance piece by Excellence Professor Kern Alexander, a faculty member in the Department of Education Policy, Organization & Leadership.  

In her blog post, Ravitch thanks a reader for pointing out Alexander's article and then writes:

“School choice is bad for society and bad for education, Alexander argues. Those who say that parents should choose assume that parents are making informed choices. We know that many parents choose truly dreadful voucher schools and charter schools. We know that parents will stay in those schools despite the school’s failure to meet the needs of their children. The usual argument against charters and vouchers, which I often make, is that they do not “save poor kids from failing schools” because they do not have higher test scores. Alexander does not even refer to test scores. He makes a principled argument, based on economics, sociology, psychology, and logic.”

Ravitch shares excerpts from Alexander's article, which include thoughts on the widespread theory that parents in the U.S. will sensibly select schools for their children, using taxpayer money, that they feel offer the best education, thus enhancing the nation’s standard of living. Alexander writes:

“Unfortunately, experience indicates that parental choices are ensnared and limited by the parents’ own limited experiences, level of learning, ignorance, biases, and mythology on which they depend to make educational choices for their children and is, thus, in most cases, highly suspect.”

Read Alexander's full article and the blog post by Ravitch.