Yesterday, Diane Ravitch posted a reader’s proposal to end school choice.
The fact that public alternatives and charters have many good teachers and leaders and involved parents is, itself, the strongest argument against public charters and alternatives. Those are the very resources needed by neighborhood schools to make them what they need to be.
In response to a similarly themed article last year (liberal parents have a responsibility to stay in public schools and make them better for everyone), Chris at A Blog About School blogged about the idea that there are two ways for people to try to influence institutions: voice and exit. I think Chris correctly noted that these types of proposals presume that public schools will be responsive to involved parents speaking up and make changes for the better.
However, state and federal involvement in public education have insulated decision-makers from political accountability, which means that when parents find themselves on a different page or different side from the school they can find speaking up to be an exercise in frustration that results in little or no improvement. And I think this drives, at least in part, the increasing interest in school choice; exit may be the only alternative to achieve an acceptable situation for their child in the short term and may provide the only pressure for the public schools to change in the long term.
In other words, without systemic change to strengthen political accountability, barring the exits only serves to preserve the status quo that those involved parents are supposed to be brought back to change.