School Choice Will Destroy The Public Schools?

By: Joel Turtel

– Maybe That’s A Good Thing

Public-school defenders often argue that school choice would destroy the public schools. Almost 90 percent of children in this country attend public schools. If we had vouchers, no compulsory attendance laws, and an unregulated education free market, millions of parents might transfer their children to private schools. This would drain hundreds of millions of tax dollars from public schools. Those children left behind in the shriveled public schools would then get an even worse education than they do now. Therefore, the argument goes, we have to fight school choice to protect the public schools.

School authorities use the same argument against charter schools. Charter schools are public schools controlled by parent-teacher boards, not central school authorities. School authorities claim that charter schools, like vouchers, divert millions of taxpayer dollars from regular public schools, and can therefore undermine these schools. Public schools may have serious problems, school authorities say, but almost forty-five million American children attend these schools. Allowing school choice would “threaten” these children’s education.

Public-school apologists argue that, despite these schools’ never-ending failure and betrayal of our children, we should just keep using the same old failed solutions — spend more money, hire more teachers, and reduce class sizes — and hope we get better results (which of course we never will).

In the meantime, what happens to forty-five million public-school children? In effect, school authorities’ don’t care about what happens to children who are forced to stay — but rather what happens to the public-school system if they are free to leave. By this reasoning, no matter how bad the schools get, we must not help children leave because that might make the public schools worse. That is like asking a parent to stop her child from escaping from a prison because doing so would upset the warden.

The question therefore is, do our children exist to serve the public-school system or should our education system exist to serve our children?

It seems that school authorities and public-school employees would rather protect an irreparably broken, failed system, than risk the security of their jobs by giving parents real school choice. We can certainly understand public-school employees wanting to keep their guaranteed job security. However, should we sacrifice our children’s education to keep failed public schools in business?

The argument that vouchers, charter schools, and other school-choice alternatives might destroy the public schools is one of the best arguments for school choice. Government-controlled public schools, not school choice, can cripple our children’s education and banish millions of inner-city kids to a lifetime of poverty and ignorance. We need to scrap the public school system, once and for all, and the sooner the better.

Article Copyrighted © 2005 by Joel Turtel.

Joel Turtel is the author of “Public Schools, Public Menace: How Public Schools Lie To Parents and Betray Our Children.” Website:, Email:, Phone: 718-447-7348.

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