July 25, 2017

School Choice History And School Choice Politics

By Bellwether

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AFT President Randi Weingarten set off a firestorm last week with some comments and arguments about how school choice is really a new effort to segregate schools. It was noxious, yes, but not entirely wrong on the history. But the history is a lot more complicated than Weingarten and those who do her bidding let on. I look at that this morning in U.S. News & World Report:

Even by the standards of the teachers unions’ “burn the village to save it” approach to maintaining political power, it was a remarkably cynical ploy: In a speech last week, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten called school vouchers the “only slightly more polite cousins of segregation.” It wasn’t an offhand remark, but rather a calculated escalation of the school choice fight and an appeal designed to address politics within her union.

Given the current climate on race in America, it was Trumpian in its naked political opportunism. It also wasn’t entirely wrong in its history. Too many school choice supporters suffer from a Trumpian historical amnesia about one aspect of school voucher history.

You can read the entire column, with some Milton Friedman and Jack Coons quotes for added fun, plus Alum Rock, Chris Jencks, and other too-often ignored aspects of school choice history. 

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