At the Republican National Convention, Jeb Bush (former Governor of Florida and younger brother of former President George W. Bush) gave a speech focused on education that I found very interesting. You can find the transcript of the speech here.
Bush brought up many interesting points, but I was intrigued by his comments on school choice in particular:
Let’s give every parent in America a choice about where their child attends school. Everywhere in our lives, we get the chance to choose. Go down any supermarket aisle – you’ll find an incredible selection of milk. You can get whole milk, 2% milk, low-fat milk or skim milk. Organic milk, and milk with extra Vitamin D. There’s flavored milk– chocolate, strawberry or vanilla – and it doesn’t even taste like milk. They even make milk for people who can’t drink milk. Shouldn’t parents have that kind of choice in schools? Governor Romney gets it. He believes parents – regardless of zip code or income – should be able to send their child to the school that fits them best. That has set him against some entrenched interests. There are many people who say they support strong schools but draw the line at school choice. “Sorry, kid. Giving you equal opportunity would be too risky. And it will upset powerful political forces that we need to win elections.” I have a simple message for these masters of delay and deferral: Choose. You can either help the politically powerful unions. Or you can help the kids.
I agree with Gov. Bush – school choice is something that needs to be embraced for the good of the students – but I’m sure it will be met with opposition from teaching unions in particular.
To me. the milk comparison is brazenly apt — though a bit silly — for understanding school choice. It takes into account that different students have different needs and there are different schools that can address those needs. It also hearkens back to good ole’ fashioned competition – if schools were forced to compete for students, then that would force them to raise their standards and levels of achievement. All in all, variety — in the classrooms and and the schools themselves — will only benefit students.
Yes, there will be issues – but that’s okay. We can’t refuse to do the right thing because it’s “hard.”