Free Minds & Free Markets

School Choice Is a Noble Cause

We need more more competition in education.

It's School Choice Week.

School choice is a noble cause. In much of America, parents have little or no control over where their kids attend school. Local governments assign schools by ZIP code.

Having choice is better. Whether it's vouchers, scholarships, charters, private schools, or just having options among public schools, choice makes some schools better because educators have to compete for parents' trust. Competition makes most everything better.

So we need competition among ideas, too.

There isn't a lot of that in America's schools.

In many places, every kid is taught:

—America is largely cruel and unfair, especially to minorities.

—Political leaders must manage most of life.

—Under capitalism, rich people prosper by exploiting the poor.

To give students another perspective, I started a charity that offers teachers free study guides, sample lessons, and videos that introduce students to free market ideas: Stossel in the Classroom.

Most of the videos are versions of my reporting for Stossel TV, Fox, and ABC News, specially edited for students.

In these videos, kids hear from people in parts of the world where markets are not as free and people suffer because of it. After watching, one high school student told us that he now understood that America is "the rare place where you can write the script of your own life."

That idea is important to kids, who don't always feel that they're in control of their lives.

One student, Gabriel Miller, told us, "When I originally went to school, it was all taught from one side: This country is horrible; because you are a minority you can't make it. It made me dislike the country. But after the videos were shown, I felt ashamed for what I initially believed."

He then enlisted in the National Guard. "I wanted to give back for, not only giving my family so much opportunity, but also to protect, defend and serve the people in the United States."

"We never really thought like this before," his classmate Diony Perez told us. "We're taught that the government is... responsible for us and we have to trust them in doing everything for us."

After watching videos about entrepreneurs, Perez decided he didn't want government to take charge of his life. Instead, he started his own business. His company delivers cars to customers without them having to step foot in a dealership.

Students say certain ideas in the videos stand out because they are different from the anti-market messages they usually hear in school.

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  • Last of the Shitlords||

    If anything, minorities disproportionately benefit from charter schools. Just like they do with less gun control.

    Democrats always fuck over minorities.

  • CDRSchafer||

    Democrats love poor people! That's why they make them poor and try and keep them poor.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Even if we kept a national/local taxpayer funding scheme for education, the kids would receive a better education at a far lower cost.

  • Libertymike||

    The constitution does not authorize any federal role in education. Therefore, any GOP type who does not insist upon the immediate termination of federal involvement in education should be tried for treason as supporting public education is the very essence of giving aid and comfort to the enemies of the constitution.

  • Longtobefree||

    General welfare clause.
    Of course, it is the general welfare of union members, but it is still general welfare.
    The courts have ruled that the federal legislature can legislate on anything and everything.

  • JFree||

    This is bullshit - and R's are blind to how they are responsible for driving the nationalization of education.

    The only constitutional federal authorization for school involvement is re either a)direct federal territories or b)an interstate compact between the states which requires congressional legislation but NOT executive branch admin/mandate.

    We HAD an interstate compact for education to deal with the stuff that states actually needed/wanted to cooperate on re education (eg what is '7th grade' for a kid whose parents relocate to the state from somewhere else, etc). That compact was not gutted by Carter when he set up the DoE (which was initially quite limited). It was gutted by Reagan/Bell/Bennett who used the existence of the DoE in order to sell a different 'national vision' of what education should be - which could only be resolved by partisan wrangling in DC. Trying to impose 'school choice' - or trying to privatize different sorts of local bureaucracies - IS attempting to sell a national top-down vision.

  • JesseAz||

    There is no such thing as a general welfare clause. The same sub clause that mentions it also states common defense yet we have 3 other clauses in 1.8 authorizing actions on the common defense. The federalist papers directly state this.

    You should feel bad.

  • A Lady of Reason||

    Indeed! Parents should have a choice, not just the government in where their kids go and what they learn. I for one would like my kids to go to a nicer district than a dumpy one, or if I could afford it, a private school or opt to a charter school, or for many parents, even home school. All should be on the table for families.

  • Trainer||

    I wouldn't call getting to choose your child's prison very libertarian. It's not even a step in the right direction. As long as the state can control where, what, when and how kids learn during their most formative years, then we really don't have much in the way of freedom. Instead of independent, strong adults we end up with, well, snowflakes who believe that the government needs to take care of them at the most fundamental level.

  • vek||

    I'm amazed there are teachers of 10 million students that have the testicular fortitude to show your videos! That's awesome! Must be mostly in Red parts of the country I suspect...

    But yeah, any and all of the various school choice proposals are at least a step in the right direction.

  • Libertymike||

    How is it a step in the right direction when, as Trainer astutely articulates, "[a]s long as the state can control where, what, when and how kids learn during their most formative years, then we really don't have much in the way of freedom?"

    Implicit in the concept of choice, is the option of boycotting public education, including its funding.

  • vek||

    Because in the real world things aren't black and white...

    Given the choice between getting shot in the dick with a .44 magnum, or being kicked in the shin, getting kicked in the shin is a pretty big improvement.

    OBVIOUSLY one should strive to avoid being kicked in the shin too, but if that's not on the table at the moment in question, getting kicked in the shin instead of being shot in the dick is pretty okay.

    The reality is if we ever get things moving in a freer direction, which I have my doubts about anyway, it will probably be incremental. People who rage against small improvements are not helping anything.

    Legalize Crack being the only acceptable position on drugs would have accomplished ZERO good... Whereas legalizing weed has probably saved many thousands of people from legal problems already, and probably hundreds of thousands going into the future, and when it spreads further MILLIONS. It also makes it easier to perhaps someday get restrictions on weed lessened even more, and perhaps work on decriminalizing other drugs.

    Dogmatic, purist, libertarians are simply a non starter for getting anything done IRL. Sorry. Incrementalism destroyed freedom in America, and it is probably the only way to restore it. Other than a violent revolution, but must cucky libertarians aren't for that either sooooo...

  • JFree||

    Whether it's vouchers, scholarships, charters, private schools, or just having options among public schools, choice makes some schools better because educators have to compete for parents' trust.

    Choice/competition only really matters re the curriculum/teaching. And it matters a hell of a lot re those two. It doesn't matter one damn though when it comes to facilities because like it or not there is a natural monopoly re the geography of school facilities. Absent a time/space warp wormhole, only one school is actually going to be closest to where families actually live and any school further away is going to require extra spending in order to transport the kid to that second location and provide the facilities there.

    In most school districts, well over 50% of the spending (and rising) is actually on that facilities/admin crap - NOT on anything in the classroom. So 'school choice' is really just a lazy (best-case) way of a)avoiding controlling the spending that needs to be heavily and harshly controlled and b)avoiding opening up existing classrooms to choice. And the ideological top-down nature of the solution eliminates even the idea we used to have that education is a local manifestation of our ability to self-govern

  • Anomalous||

    My mind, my choice.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    *To give students another perspective, I started a charity that offers teachers free study guides, sample lessons, and videos that introduce students to free market ideas: Stossel in the Classroom.*

    How about we change it to "Stache in the Class"?

  • BYODB||

    School choice is incedibly important, and it would be nice to see some schools emphasize trades since we really, really don't have enough of them. It's cheaper to hire illegal immigrant unskilled tradesmen (or even skilled, since regulations don't cover them) which has decimated the trades. It's not their fault entirely, government has regulated the trades into unaffordability for lots of people, so they are more or less forced to contract a job out to someone under the table.

  • Uncle Jay||

    The masses should never be allowed a choice in their indoctrination centers, re-education camps, own guns or have due process.
    That's how freedom occurs.
    None of ruling elitist turds want that.
    What next?

  • JasonT20||

    "In many places, every kid is taught:

    —America is largely cruel and unfair, especially to minorities."

    What, you don't like that students are taught about slavery, Jim Crow, the Trail of Tears, Japanese internment, etc.? Grading on a curve, the U.S. gets an A+ for its history and ideals. But you have to learn about its faults to make it live up to those ideals.

    " —Political leaders must manage most of life."

    What does this even mean? "Most" of my life is not managed by government, not even close. If there are specific areas that government is involved in that you don't think it should be, then name them. Without specifics, this is just typical anti-government rhetoric.

    "—Under capitalism, rich people prosper by exploiting the poor."

    What, this hasn't happened before? It isn't inevitable for capitalism to result in the exploitation of the poor, but it is true that power corrupts, and the wealthy have a great deal of political power that can be used to protect and expand that power and wealth. It is often said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others that have been tried. Capitalism is in the same category. It has a good ratio of pros to cons, but it is also not as self-correcting as free market idealists like to think.

  • vek||

    WOW. You must be new around here.

    Stossel has written TONS about specific areas of government he has problems with. Which is most of them.

    This is a libertarian site... You DO know what libertarianism is all about right?

  • JasonT20||

    I do know what libertarianism is all about. At least, I know what most of its adherents would tell you it is. The straw men that Stossel put up, though, make it seem like libertarianism is all about worshiping the free market and proclaiming that anyone left of center is a socialist bent on destroying all that is great about America.

    I do note that you didn't really dispute how I attacked Stossel's straw men claims about what is being taught in public schools. Have anything to comment on in that regard?

  • Barry Gold||

    I'm not going to say that vouchers are a bad thing, but I'm a little leery on this. It could be a case of "be careful what you wish for, you might get it."

    The problem I see is that where government money goes, government regulation is usually not far behind. It might start out with a school that accepts vouchers but does not have any black students. A couple more, and the voucher schools will all get the label "segregation academies". Then the government will mandate that schools accept students regardless of race, and probably inspectors or some sort of "affirmative action" because at least one of these will claim it's "just a coincidence" that none of their 500 students is black.

    Even more likely: there's a lot of parents who would like to send their children to overtly Christian schools. What happens when a Jewish family wants to send their child there? And the school insists that he/she come to (Christian) religious services because it's "part of the curriculum"?

  • David Emami||

    "If we approve vouchers, the teachers' union suffers? THAT is a noble cause."


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