School choice continues to be seen as an important strategy for improving public education, and last week’s focus – “School Choice Week” ended on January 27 – brought out more reflections on why it works. In early education, the concept of choice is already a given, since parents are expected to choose preschools, childcare and other early learning centers for their children. When it comes to affordable, high-quality programs, though, choices remain limited for many parents.
I, too, am a proponent of public school choice. Providing a variety of educational options for students is a good thing. Choice alone, however, will not improve traditional public schools or public education systems. In a recent post for the National Journal Education Expert blog, I ask federal, state and local policymakers to remember that by kindergarten most students still attend their assigned public school. That’s why “investments must continue to go primarily to improving the quality of teaching and learning in more traditional settings. The various public choice options do provide a place to try new strategies, structures and methods on a smaller scale. But for successes in charter schools and other choice options to have a positive impact at a larger scale, policymakers will need to make it easier for traditional public schools to adopt and implement these promising practices. This means giving principals more control over their school’s resources and structure.”
For more, see my full National Journal post.