With school choice becoming an increasingly prominent issue as the vote to make Betsy DeVos our secretary of education approached, I felt I needed to address it head on. In my comic strip, Mr. Fitz, had poked fun the problems of for-profit charter schools, and even drawn a dark dystopian dream sequence of what the schools of 2031 would look like, but I had never addressed the idea of school choice directly.
School choice is one of those concepts that seems logical on the surface: give students and families the freedom to choose from a wide array of education choices, and let them take their tax-payer-funded educational dollars wherever they want. The free market will ensure quality education will ensue, and break up the terrible monopoly of “government schools.”
There are many, many problems with this scenario, and I needed a satirical device would allow me to address the issues inherent in the school choice argument. In talking it over with my wife and my son, we hit on the concept that eventually became the main premise of the story-line below.
I am, of course, making the points in an over-the-top way, but every strip addresses a serious concern. The series starts out as a typical plot line for recurring character Jeremy Yoyo, who has been in and out of public school many, many times in strip, and who has returned from his latest charter school with his mother insisting on a parent conference…
If you’d like an overview of these issues in the real world, with links to relevant articles, I’d like to suggest this blog post, “Top 10 Reasons Why School Choice is No Choice.” I didn’t read it until today, as the last strip in my series ran in the newspaper, but it makes many of the same points.
My prediction is that our new Education Secretary is going to try to bribe local districts to privatize their schools using grants, very much like the Race to the Top Grants under the previous administration. Our best bet is to resist these grants at a local level. Once our schools are in private hands, we no longer have a say in them. The best school choice is the choice to be involved in our public schools.