Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Changing the Status Quo in Education

Education may become an election issue after all. Jake Tapper at ABC News takes up the issue of school choice with Barack Obama. Here's a tanscript:

TAPPER: You talked about the need to change the status quo in education today.

OBAMA: Right.

TAPPER: But one of the ways that proponents of school choice say that the best way to change the status quo is to give parents, inner-city parents a choice. Why not?

OBAMA: Well, the problem is, is that, you know, although it might benefit some kids at the top, what you're going to do is leave a lot of kids at the bottom. We don't have enough slots for every child to go into a parochial school or a private school. And what you would see is a huge drain of resources out of the public schools.

So what I've said is let's foster competition within the public school system. Let's make sure that charter schools are up and running. Let's make sure that kids who are in failing schools, in local school districts, have an option to go to schools that are doing well.

But what I don't want to do is to see a diminished commitment to the public schools to the point where all we have are the hardest-to-teach kids with the least involved parents with the most disabilities in the public schools. That's going to make things worse, and we're going to lose the commitment to public schools that I think have been so important to building this country.

TAPPER: So it would help some kids, but overall it would be bad for the system?

OBAMA: I think it would be overall bad for most kids.
Obama makes it sound as if parents are given the choice to leave the public schools, they'd be getting out in droves, so much so that private schools wouldn't keep up with the increased demand. However, in a free society utitlizing free markets, increased demand will lead to an increase in supply. The reason there aren't more private and parochial schools is due to the government's monopoly on education and the money available to fund them. End the monopoly and introduce true competition and we'd have enough schools to fill the demand.

His comments also make me wonder, if he's elected President, will Obama put his daughters in the DC public schools or enroll them in an elite private school because he can? It also makes me wonder what Obama thinks about parents who opt out of insitutional education completely and choose to homeschool. Is that bad for the system and most kids too?

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