March 4, 2015

Who believes better education depends on breaking up the public school monopoly, providing real choice for parents and ending union rules?

A. Senator Phil Berger

B. Former New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein

The answer is both. In North Carolina, Berger and the conservative majority in the Legislature champion giving parents choice with charter schools and Opportunity Scholarships for children of limited means to attend private schools plus pay for performance raises and an end to tenure rules that protect ineffective teachers.

And here is what Barrons Magazine said Mayor Bloomberg’s schools superintendent Joel Klein revealed. “Democrats and Republicans alike, he says, must first recognize that public education is a “broken, government-run monopoly serving the needs of adults at the expense of the needs of children.” The only way forward, Klein says, is to offer underprivileged families real educational choices, breaking the states’ monopoly on education and the perverse union rules strangling public education all across the nation.”

Klein wants real choice by empowering parents with vouchers just like the conservative majority does. “Charter schools are great, Klein says, but voucher programs are the only way to quickly scale up high-quality alternatives to the busted and dangerous public schools currently entrapping our kids. Such programs allow a disadvantaged family to apply the tax-dollar equivalent of a public education—almost $20,000 a year in New York City—toward a private education of their choice.” (Morais 2015)

Can the anti-school choice newspapers portray liberal Mayor Bloomberg’s schools chief as a right wing public school hater? Not likely.

The conservative majority passed school choice. But a judge struck down choice for parents in a decision reminiscent of George Wallace standing in the schoolhouse door a half century ago. Let’s hope the Supreme Court is wiser.

Klein and the conservative reformers are right. Competition will deliver better education.