Parental choice not the panacea it seems

The increasing number of states allowing parents to decide for themselves where public funds should go to educate their children is long overdue (“Milton Friedman’s School Choice Revolution,” The Wall Street Journal, Apr. 4).  Although the movement was the result of Milton Friedman essay in 1955 titled “The Role of Government in Education,” it only has accelerated since the pandemic closed down public schools, leaving parents at their wit’s end.

I support parental choice, but I hasten to point out that it is not a panacea that so many believe.  What happened in New Zealand in 1989 serves as a cautionary tale.  Under Tomorrow’s Schools, it undertook the most dramatic transformation of a state system of compulsory education in history.  Parents were allowed to apply to any school anywhere in the country.  Funding followed enrollment.

But far more middle-class parents applied to the best schools than Maori and Pacific Islander parents. Once filled, they began to turn away these hard-to-teach students, who had little choice but to return to their original schools.  Recognizing that its grand experiment was not working as intended, the government began to pull back, leaving a mess.

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