School choice is inevitable

Utah and Iowa are the latest states to give parents the option of sending their children to any school they want through education savings accounts (“The School Choice Drive Accelerates,” The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 28).  Arizona and Florida were trailblazers in this regard.

As readers of this column know, I’ve long supported parental choice because I believe that parents know best.  But I have consistently pointed out that the playing field is hardly level.  Traditional public schools must by law enroll all students who show up at their doors regardless of their ability or desire to learn. As a result, they can hardly be expected to produce the same results as other schools that are highly selective in whom they admit and whom they expel.

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The trouble with school dress codes

Public schools are the only schools that have a problem enforcing dress codes (“When it comes to dress codes, girls aren’t equal,” Los Angeles Times, Jan. 27).  That’s because they must enroll all students who show up at their doors regardless of their motivation to learn.

In sharp contrast, private and religious schools have rigid dress codes that are observed by parents and their children.  As a result, administrators don’t have to waste valuable time enforcing the rules. When parents choose a particular school, they agree to abide by all their rules, including the dress codes. 

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New school for free expression is pathetic

When the University of North Carolina, the nation’s oldest public university, voted to create the School of Civic Life and Leadership in order to commit to free expression, it failed to see the irony involved (“UNC Takes on the University Echo Chamber,” The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 27).  I thought free speech was the reason that tenure existed. 

The truth is that colleges and universities no longer are places where unpopular views can be expressed without serious consequences. That’s an indictment of what passes as higher education in this country.

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Paycheck protection for Florida teachers

Teachers in Florida will get a pay raise, but their union will find it harder to collect its annual dues (“DeSantis Does a Teacher Pay Two-Step,” The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 26).  That’s because the union can no longer extract member dues unless teachers specifically grant it permission to do so.

Teachers who opt out of joining a union nevertheless receive all the benefits as paying members.  These so-called free riders have it both ways.  I’ve longed resented such teachers because they enjoy the same protection while contributing nothing for it.

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High school seniors choose college for the wrong reason

A recent focus group of 11 high school seniors found one thing in common: They all believed that college was primarily for gaining a credential to get a job (“Harvard or Happiness? 11 High School Seniors Debate College Rankings,” The New York Times, Jan. 25).  Yet instead of focusing on the major they chose, they were obsessed with a brand name.

That’s a big mistake. I question if majoring in gender studies at an Ivy League school will help them achieve that goal more than majoring in computer science at a third-tier college. My point is that employers are far more impressed by the knowledge and skills that a college graduate possesses than by the name of the school.

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Merit is the last asset of public schools

The only thing that prevents parents from withdrawing their children from public schools is merit (“Every parent should fight back vs. the left’s war on merit,” New York Post, Jan 23).  Yet merit is being attacked as antithetical to equity.  It’s a terrible mistake.

Other countries correctly understand that nurturing merit is the key to their economic success.  As a result, they engage in differentiation in education since not all students are equal in ability. Only the U.S. persists in democratization in educating the young. We will pay a stiff price in the new world economy.

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New AP test is controversial

When the Florida Department of Education blocked an Advanced Placement test in African-American studies, it claimed it did so because the course lacked educational value (“Florida Bans AP African-American Studies Course From Public Schools” The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 20). Yet Florida allows AP tests in European history, Spanish, German and Italian language and culture.

Since that is the case, what is the real reason that the course is being attacked? I think it’s because it stresses victimhood. That is a legitimate concern.  I fail to understand how African American students are helped.  Woke indoctrination is antithetical to real education.

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School discipline worsens

Since Black students are suspended at higher rates than white students, schools have been pressured to reduce suspensions (“Biden Gives a Boost to Schoolyard Bullies,” The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 18).  As a result, there has been a 56 percent increase in classroom disruption compared with a typical school year.

The fact is that students of all races who want to learn are being penalized. As long as every issue in education is seen through the prism of race, little will change. Blacks are no more a monolith than other races. Yet they are singled out as if all are the same.  Bias is not the only possible explanation for disparities in discipline.

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School choice, but with one condition

New York City is home of the nation’s largest school district.  It’s not surprising, therefore, that pressure is building for parents to be able to choose the school their children attend (“Lessons for Kathy Hochul on improving education,” New York Daily News, Jan. 13).

I support parental choice of schools, but I hasten to point out one important condition: Private, religious and charter schools must operate by the same rules as traditional public schools.  There is nothing inherently superior about these schools.  It’s just that public schools must accept all students who show up at their doors and cannot expel them except for the most egregious behavior.

It’s time to change the rules so that parents can make the proper decision for their children.

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Critical Race Theory drives parents out of public schools

Parents are fleeing public schools because they believe that Critical Race Theory is indoctrination rather than education (“The Critical Race Theory debate is turning parents into unlikely activists,” New York Post, Jan. 14).  The beneficiaries are private schools and Catholic schools that have seen their enrollments increase.

Parents see similarities between what is happening in this country with what took place during Mao-era China. In both cases, dissent was stifled, with the result that children were severely shortchanged.

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