Trapping the Motivated in Failing Schools
This thinking, expressed by “Cranston parent,” “graduate of the Pawtucket public schools,” and “professor of law at New England Law – Boston” Monica Teixeira de Sousa in an op-ed, yesterday, is telling of a certain mentality:
We know that parental involvement in a child’s education is one of the most powerful predictors of educational success. It is clear that a lottery system admissions process results in enrolling those students who have parents or guardians who are willing and able to take the affirmative step of placing their child’s name on the list.
This seemingly small act is no small feat for many families who may be experiencing crippling problems such as illness, domestic violence, poverty and homelessness, among others. The children being raised in such circumstances and whose parents for whatever reason may not enter them into the lottery are denied any educational choice.
Underlying this sentiment is a broadly held and deeply flawed worldview that our circumstances can make us something less than human. Illness, violence, poverty, and homelessness can so rob us of our individual agency that we lack the capacity to choose even to try to overcome by the minor act of placing a name on a list. And that, naturally, is why we need leftists and education bureaucrats to tell parents where they must send their children to school and what models to use for the design of their services.
More acutely disturbing is the insistence that parents who are truly motivated to find opportunities for their children should be denied those opportunities because other parents may not seek them. It reminds me of the video making the rounds of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher explaining that progressives would rather that the poor live in worse conditions so long as the wealthy lived in worse conditions, as well. I wonder whether Teixeira de Sousa has considered that the presence of a choice might inspire some parents to realize that they should be involved and considering their options.
Be that as it may, I’m inclined to take her argument and run with it. Fine, let’s amplify educational choices by developing a voucher system allowing parents to send their children wherever they like.