Ideas: Please Stop Talking About Banning Private School
It's become somewhat popular among reformy types over the past couple of years to float the idea of "banning" private school and making everyone go to a public school. (Counter-reformers have their favorite stories, too, but we'll save those for another time.)
Warren Buffet, Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee, Steve Barr, and most recentlyJason Kamras are those I've seen or read deliver a version of the same story (often without attributing it to Buffet, whom I understand to be its originator). Some propose banning homeschooling, too. Others point out that we'd have to assign kids randomly rather than by neighborhood.
I'm not sure anyone's decided what would happen to charter schools under this scenario, but it doesn't matter. Things would get better, fast, is the point. And indeed they might. So too if we eliminated local school districts (as Matt Miller proposed a few years ago) or lowered any number of other structural obstacles to a better-run, more rational school system.
But none of these things is going to happen any time soon, and I for one have gotten annoyed at this particular "thought experiment," which seems desperate and misleading. It's desperate because its fanciful nature suggests that reformers are out of ideas; even their magic bullets are made up, now (though to be fair, I'm suspicious about the existence of "Finland," too). It's misleading because it fails to acknowledge that, by focusing almost exclusively on the poorest neighborhoods and the lowest-performing teachers and schools, reformers have contributed to the lack of engagement among middle-class and wealthy families whose interests are going to be needed to make education better at scale.
Anyway, please stop. Thanks.