Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Those Bedfellow Aren't Just Strange

Back in the glorious Iraq war days, Little Tommy Friedman would blather on and on about how he didn't support *this* war, but he supported Tom Friedman's war, which was some other war in Iraq fought for some other reason by some other people in some other way over on Earth-2 somewhere, but that therefore he also supported *this* war because it was the Iraq war which he supported. It's like his support for any bill or treaty with "free trade" in it. He might object to the details in theory, but in practice he still supports it because it says "free trade" and like "war in Iraq" that's just a thing he supports because he does.

The charter school/school choice "movement" has been a bit like that. Take a germ of an idea which might sound good to some liberals (and might even be a good idea!) - allow some additional flexibility in large urban school districts, given parents some options about where to send their kids, perhaps to specialty schools. Then add in for profit schooling, public money spent on religious schools, union busting (a feature for many self-styled liberals, too, I know), forced closure of so-called "underperforming" neighborhood schools under a formula which ensures they'll all eventually be closed and their replacement with for-profit charters, financial devastation of the public schools which are left behind due in part to favorable funding formulas for the charters, inevitable corruption scandals of the for-profit schools, etc. Of course all of this is happening in "urban schools" where "those kids" can be the guinea pigs in a grand experiment because affluent white suburban people will flip their shit when it's their turn. Hey, it's still "school choice" much as it is "free trade" or "war in Iraq," but it long ago ceased to be anything that a liberal (or any decent person) should support. Still they soldier on.

Eventheliberals mostly aren't too outspoken about this stuff anymore, preferring to just go silent on the subject, but a lot of them still support, if more quietly, the "school choice" movement because if it is called "school choice" it's gotta be good, amiright?