January 2010 Your Turn
That’s the main message in your responses to November’s question: “What does ‘school choice’ mean to you?”
Only 20 percent of you said “choice is a key to effective school reform.” Sixty percent said “it has a role to play but is not indispensible,” 7 percent said it “has minimal or no impact on school reform efforts,” and 13 percent said it has a negative effect.
“Choice broadens educational opportunity but is not the panacea that some make it out to be,” wrote Wisconsin Superintendent Randal Braun. “Parents who exercise choice options may improve the educational lot of their children, but what about the children of parents who don’t bother to exercise those options? When funding follows the choice, it may lead to competition for educational dollars, which in turn may provide incentive to improve schools, but what if it instead leads to poorly funded schools that serve those disenfranchised students whose parents don’t choose to participate in choice options? Allowing regular schools the flexibility to make change may be a better course. Why does a school need to be a charter school to do things differently?”
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