Bailing Out Failing Public Schools is NOT Conservative

Let me preface this article with the disclaimer that I know very little about the state of education in North Carolina. I know that public schools in general are usually disgusting paper mills that push students through without much care to whether the students are actually learning anything and I know the North Carolina came in 38th in SAT scores in 2013.

I also know that being for a public institutions because “think of the children” (even when the institution regularly screws up children’s education) is not a conservative principle.

So imagine my shock when I read this article on Diane Ravitch’s blog that basically said that if conservatives are more interested in results and the free market being used to encourage schools to excel, we aren’t really conservatives.

The movement to snuff out public education begins by funneling public dollars to private schools, home schools, and charter schools, none of which are accountable for their spending or actions.

Conservatives don’t destroy their community’s public schools. Conservatives don’t blow up traditional and beloved institutions.

Conservatives don’t place the free market above human values.

Because apparently pouring money in failing schools, essentially bailing them out, is a conservative idea? Nuh-uh Diane.

Look Diane, more money doesn’t make a school function any better. If it’s a crap school is generally not lack of funding that’s the culprit, it’s more the top heavy administration and the teachers (and teacher’s unions) that are at fault.

But let’s talk this through.

You say that taking money from failing schools and giving them to successful schools is not a conservative value. I think that rewarding success was a very conservative value.

You say that we’re putting the free market above human values. This confuses me because in my opinion the work of the free market is directly related to human values.  Unless your “human value” is more about saving a failing cultural institution than it is about giving children a good education…which makes me question your human values.

You say that charter schools and private schools are not held accountable, but public schools that have a monopoly on citizen’s taxes (whether their child attends the school or not) are? I shudder to think what your opinion on school vouchers would be if you have a problem with the free market working at this level. After all wouldn’t parents taking their kids from failing schools, along with their child’s portion of state funding, and putting them in a successful charter or private school would just make them a bad person (like an outrageously liberal Slate op-ed said in August of last year), right?

The odd thing though is that when I check North Carolina’s own standards (using a sample of 100 regular public schools and 100 charter schools) the Charter schools are meeting all the state standards in 66% of schools, while only 44% of public schools appear to be meeting those standards. How are they not being held accountable exactly?

The free market is what we need Diane, not an attempt to shore up broken public school districts. Just because it’s the way we’ve done things for a hundred or so years, does not mean it needs to continue that way. The fact is that our public schools are not getting any better, despite drastic increases in funding over the years. It’s time to try something new and let the market compete to give our kids the best education they can possibly get.

If school vouchers and shifted funding can get more kids into private and chartered schools (where they are held accountable by the parents, who aren’t trapped at a school by geography, as well as the state) then I’m all for it.

And so should any conservative.