Education Letter to the Editor

Assess School Choice With a ‘Dose of Skepticism’

September 17, 2007 1 min read

To the Editor:

School choice has great intuitive appeal today because of the intense frustration and anger felt by so many taxpayers about their neighborhood schools. But as Paul T. Hill correctly points out, the success of choice is based on a series of assumptions that do not always work the way free marketeers assert (“Waiting for the ‘Tipping Point’,” Commentary, Sept. 5, 2007).

The biggest mistake this group makes is maintaining that schools are institutions that are not unique. Repeating something often enough, however, does not make it true, and no more so than in this case. Despite evidence that supports Mr. Hill’s seven points about the special characteristics of schools, ideologues will not be deterred. In fact, they only become more obstinate.

The most effective way of convincing them that they are wrong, therefore, is to make them spend protracted time in classrooms of public schools across the country. This requirement alone would do more than anything else to help them get real. In the meantime, a healthy dose of skepticism is in order.

Walt Gardner

Los Angeles, Calif.