David Harsanyi (“The immoral fight against school choice,” Jan. 23) makes valid points in his argument that opposition to “school choice” — meaning public funding for private schools — is an “immoral” defense of a failing “status quo.” We do need to improve our inner-cities and their schools. But he omits some facts that typically are ignored by voucher backers.
In Iowa and many states, parents are not “forced to enroll their kids in underperforming schools.” Most states (including Iowa) already have school choice; it’s called open enrollment. Families are allowed to enroll their children in any district, sometimes in any building, that they choose.
The biggest inequity of voucher systems is that they seek to pay private schools to do less than public schools. Yes, Harsanyi, those “good” private schools that are “just blocks away” from a public school might be better in some ways, but it is not a clear or fair judgment. They need not adhere to the many rules for testing and reporting that public schools must follow. And their results are not coming from the same students. The private schools can choose who comes in the door. They can either turn students with special needs away or use the public school district for that spendy help at no cost to themselves. Every public school must welcome every student and must try to meet every need. If private schools are to receive public money, they should meet public school standards and face public school consequences.