School Choice

School Choice Can Heal the Division in Charlottesville

Studies show students in schools of choice have more respect for the rights of people they don't like.

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After last weekend's deadly 'Unite the Right' rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, school choice has taken some of the blame.

Jennifer Steele, an associate professor of education at American University, interviewed by The Hill, argued Education Secretary Betsy DeVos' school choice advocacy could fuel the social tensions behind the clashes.

"The purpose of schooling is to expose people to diverse ideas and experiences," Steele said. "By allowing people to opt out of public schooling, we risk having a more fragmented society and in the wake of the events in Charlottesville, that's really an increasing concern."

I share Steele's concerns about the state of our civic culture. A bedrock of our democracy and a societal norm we've established is respect for the rights of people with whom we disagree. James Alex Fields violated this core American value when he ran his car over dozens of protestors last week. Preventing that kind of heinous violence in the future means teaching our kids to disagree peacefully rather than using force.

Evidence makes clear Steele's concerns about school choice are misplaced. In eight of 11 empirically rigorous studies, comparing children in schools of choice and traditional public schools, students in schools of choice were more likely to support the civic rights of their most hated opponents. Three find no visible effects. None indicate school choice has a negative impact on tolerance.

These studies don't sugar-coat tolerance, they go straight to the hardest cases. Researchers asked students to list the groups they detest most in society (think hate groups like the KKK, opponents on divisive issues like abortion, disfavored religious minorities like the Westboro Baptist Church). Students were then asked whether these groups should be granted civic rights like voting, protesting, or be allowed to check out library books sympathetic to their views.

The studies also go beyond tolerating people you dislike. The balance of evidence shows schools of choice having positive effects on students volunteerism, political participation, civics knowledge, and even willingness to donate to those in need. Even counting studies with lower methodological standards, evidence is overwhelmingly positive or at the least mixed. Only three of 63 studies of student civic values suggest traditional public schools do a better job.

If we want to limit the influence of white supremacists and neo-Nazis in our society, we need to teach our children the value of pluralism. If we want to stop political violence from getting out of control, students need to learn the value of civil disagreement.

On balance, schools of choice offer a better civics education than traditional public schools. If we're serious about healing the wounds of Charlottesville, we can't forget that.

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34 responses to “School Choice Can Heal the Division in Charlottesville

  1. There’s nothing more diverse than putting every single child through the same, identical, bureaucratic education from kindergarten to adulthood, no matter who they are.

    1. It’s the only way to simultaneously achieve diversity and equality.

  2. Researchers asked students to list the groups they detest most in society (think hate groups like the KKK, opponents on divisive issues like abortion, disfavored religious minorities like the Westboro Baptist Church). Students were then asked whether these groups should be granted civic rights like voting, protesting, or be allowed to check out library books sympathetic to their views.

    My guess is many of the anti school choice advocates would be for them removing civil rights from those people.

    1. My other guess is that their idea of diversity is the watered down concept of diversity where everyone thinks the same, but they look different.

  3. It fits the pattern: public school advocates have claimed it as the solution to all of society’s problems for over a century.

    There’s no reason they should stop the self-serving dishonesty now. Why not use Charlottesville to try to score some undeserved points?

  4. “School Choice Can Heal the Division in Charlottesville
    Studies show students in schools of choice have more respect for the rights of people they don’t like.”

    I don’t know who this Tyler kid is but that’s a hell of a segue.
    Well played, sir.

  5. “The purpose of schooling is to expose people to diverse ideas and experiences,” Steele said.

    said Jennifer Steele, an associate professor of education at American University, interviewed by The Hill. There’s some fine examples of diversity at universities and colleges across the country, and The Hill is famous for its diversity of opinion. Yes, they are just the ones to lecture everybody else on diversity.

    And speaking of diversity at colleges and universities, the example of all those Marxian professors demanding that Nazis be banned and censored is just too rich. Marxians murdered 100M people last century, Nazis killed only 10M. What lesson does that teach — survivors write history?

    1. That quote is so ridiculous I can’t even.

      1. I thought schooling had something to do with education and the 3 R’s.

  6. Are we now on to healing the racial divide? It seems too soon. I feel another solid week of outrage can be wrung out of recent events.

    1. Are we now on to healing the racial divide?

      Those statues of hate won’t take themselves down.

      1. Are we taking down statues of FDR and JFK now?

        1. I wish. We as a country need to unite and admit that it was the Kennedy’s the brought evil to America.

  7. We still don’t know the facts about the car incident in Charlottesville, do we? But Reason feels the need to assume that Fields is simply a murderer. There is video and witness evidence suggesting his car was struck numerous times by Antifa thugs. In Virginia there is a vehicular stand your ground law, but Reason’s crack team of legal analysts can’t seem to come up with that. A person in a car surrounded by a violent mob has every right to drive through them. I am not saying that is definitely what happened, but until the facts are in Reason should not be assuming the opposite is true. Cuck- erterians act that way!

    1. Thanks for letting us know you’re a tard.

      1. Yes, urging people to wait for the investigation makes them a tard.

        What a cuck.

        1. You don’t need to jump in, we already know you’re a tard.

    2. There is video and witness evidence suggesting his car was struck numerous times by Antifa thugs.

      In all the videos I’ve seen, I see no evidence to support this claim. Maybe at the 1:52 mark in the linked video, you can see some people hitting the car AFTER it had already rammed into another car and already hit several people. It seems pretty obvious to me that the sack of worthless human filth driving it initiated the violence here. I see no way to interpret his actions as self defense. Maybe if you place a fixed frame of reference centered on the car, you could consider the car to be standing still and the antifa thugs to be the ones who ran into it.

      I am willing to concede that a lot of the videos are poor quality, and in most of them you hear the sound of the crash and then the person holding the camera pans over to it. If you have some other video evidence to support that claim, then provide a link to it.

  8. By allowing people to opt out of public schooling, we risk having a more fragmented society

    Oooh this shit drives me crazy.

    We DO allow people to “opt out of public schooling.” We DON’T allow poor people to opt out of public schooling.

    These people need to be called on this shit each and every single time they pull it.

    1. Then ban private schooling, duh.

      1. Exactly.

        This is the argument that these people are in fact making, although they refuse to admit it. We can’t let them get away with that.

        They act like school-choice advocates want to make it so that only some people can “opt out of public schools” when the case is exactly the opposite of that – school choice people want everyone to be able to opt out, in sharp contrast to anti-choice advocates who only want some people to be able to opt out (i.e. the current status quo).

        If they want to package what they are doing as some kind of moral high ground, they have to be arguing that everyone should be assigned a school by the government, no exceptions, no appeals. But in my experience almost no one has the guts to admit that that’s what they are arguing.

      2. Back in the 70s, the NEA or the AFT (I can’t remember) actually lobbied to ban private education.

        More recently Warren Buffet has has proposed to “make private schools illegal and assign every child to a [state] school by random lottery”

    2. If people are allowed to go to varied settings to express their different beliefs and different ways to raise their children then diversity will be raped to its very core.

  9. The divisions in Charlottesville have nothing to do w school, everything to do w value judgments & outside agitators.

  10. Many religious conservatives want to withdraw from a society that doesn’t share their most-repressive values (make birth control illegal, mandate forced listening to prayer in school, criminalize sodomy, ban science education etc.). Right now they are free to home-school their kids or send them to bible school on their own dime. I’m not sure I want to give my tax dollars to them in the form of vouchers to teach religion, as Betsy D. does. Can we say no taxes in support of religious indoctrination? That would require someone to judge what school consists of vs. what church or mosque or temple consists of.

    1. Many hardcore leftistsreligious conservatives want to withdraw from a society that doesn’t share their most-progressiverepressive values (make birth control mandatoryillegal, mandate no prayer outside of private homesforced listening to prayer in school, criminalize cishet practicessodomy, ban science education etc.).

      Just Saying.

  11. If you have school choice, you’ll end up with a diverse, well-adjusted public school filled with students who are all above average, and a racist, evil white school.

    /Prog Public School Teacher

    1. It’s so much worse than that.

      I have literally been told the following by progressive public school teachers.

      All teachers receive identical training. There is therefore no meaningful difference in quality between one teacher and another, and there is therefore no meaningful difference in quality between one school and another.

      Therefore, underperforming schools underperform because of the students. Allowing school choice (we’re, of course, pretending that no one, is currently allowed school choice) means that white people will take their children out of the public schools (this doesn’t happen under the current system, remember) and leave behind only minority children, who can objectively be proven to be poorer students than the white children, since the white schools perform better.

      This will cause a death spiral in the public school system as the minority students without the white students will make those schools perform even worse. Because if a minority-dominated high school has poor graduation rates, you can help those minority students by bringing in a bunch of white students to bring up the graduation metrics, or something.

      1. ^^This.

        I will say one thing in their defense. There are schools out there with dropout rates of 50% and more. I don’t blame the teachers for that.

      2. Wait a minute… so the argument is that the minorities are worse students and a school’s overall performance will go down if white people leave. How incredibly racist.

  12. The fact is that James Alex Fields went to a conventional government school, Randall K Cooper High School, according to the NYT.

    I don’t understand why this would cause any sane person to think that school choice or vouchers are the source of problems like this.

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