When you think of school choice— what comes to mind?

When you think of school choice, what comes to mind? Vouchers? Charters? Intra- and Inter- district choice? Magnet schools?

Today I received a forwarded email request from a senator that was gathering information in response to pressure for “school choice” bills at the Texas Legislature.

I have been pondering “school choice,” and why it is such a prominent conversation in our time— we now even have a “school choice week.” I believe the reason is simple: Our policymakers have failed to provide what  is necessary for children to succeed in public schools. Thus, we need to reframe the “choice” conversation. To do so, I have developed a “school choice” concise from my research anthology 2005-2012.

Here is what parents and students should be able to choose:

  1. Standards that represent diverse populations The illusion of inclusion: Race and standards
  2. An accountability system that doesn’t stigmatize students who score poorly on only one measure of success— high-stakes tests At-risk student averse: Risk management and accountability 
  3. An accountability system that doesn’t hide students who fall through the cracks while simultaneously claiming fantastic results As good as advertised?: Tracking urban student progress through high school in an environment of accountability
  4. An accountability system that recognizes the unique needs of English Language Learners relative to high-stakes testing Understanding the interaction between high-stakes graduation tests and English language learners
  5. Teachers that have more than five weeks of training. Teach For America: A review of the evidence.
  6. Teachers that have more than 30 hours of “alternative certification” training Alternative certification and Teach For America: The search for high quality teachers. 
  7. Schools that don’t have a 40% attrition rate for their African American students Is choice a panacea? An analysis of black secondary student attrition from KIPP, other private charters and urban districts.
  8. Schools that have vibrant public arts programs From Dewey to No Child Left Behind: The evolution and devolution of public arts education.
  9. Schools that have low student-teacher ratios Inputs and student achievement: An analysis of Latina/o-serving urban elementary schools.
  10. Schools that don’t have to cheat and game the system to make their numbers for NCLB Accountability Texas-style: The progress and learning of urban minority students in a high-stakes testing context
  11. Schools that are not racially segregated Achieving diversity in the Parents Involved era: Evidence for geographic integration plans in metropolitan school districts.
  12. Schools that utilize innovative disciplinary approaches to stem the “school to prison pipeline” Developing a school-based youth court: A potential alternative to the school to prison pipeline.
  13. Schools that have teachers in every classroom that are teaching in field and have extensive training in classroom management, curriculum development and pedagogy Does teacher preparation matter? Evidence about teacher certification, Teach for America, and teacher effectiveness.

Why don’t parents already have these choices in our low-performing public schools? Why are they being forced to choose from this: Vouchers; Charters; Intra- and Inter- district choice; and Magnet schools. Is that question perplexing or obvious?


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