School choice helps mi­nor­ity chil­dren

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND VOICES - Teresa Mull, Vic­tor, Idaho The writer is an ed­u­ca­tion re­search fel­low at The Heart­land In­sti­tute.

Mor­gan Showal­ter writes in a re­cent com­men­tary (“School choice too of­ten leads to seg­re­ga­tion,” Oct. 21) that school choice “once promised an egal­i­tar­ian mix of ur­ban and subur­ban stu­dents of all races in one build­ing, but in re­al­ity usu­ally meant seg­re­ga­tion, with black stu­dents con­fined to cer­tain city schools and whites al­lowed a means of es­cape from them.” What does the au­thor mean? Isn’t a lack of choice the es­sen­tial def­i­ni­tion of seg­re­ga­tion? Stu­dents are more likely to be seg­re­gated when their ZIP codes dic­tate where they can and can­not at­tend school.

Many stud­ies have proven that school choice not only helps poor and mi­nor­ity stu­dents but that it ac­tu­ally ben­e­fits them the most. Re­search also shows school choice is use­ful in achiev­ing de­seg­re­ga­tion, which makes per­fect sense: Choice en­ables low-in­come, mi­nor­ity stu­dents the chance to get away from, at least dur­ing school hours, the “sit­u­a­tional poverty, sick­ness, food stamps and wel­fare” Mr. Showal­ter him­self was so grate­ful to es­cape.

I agree that yes, of course we should work on “transforming our com­mu­ni­ties.” But chil­dren can’t af­ford to wait around while com­mu­ni­ties are trans­formed. They de­serve bet­ter now. Mr. Showal­ter writes, “Ed­u­ca­tional choices will al­ways be avail­able but they may never be ef­fec­tively avail­able to all.” Why is that? Be­cause anti-choice ac­tivists would rather seg­re­gate chil­dren into the com­mu­ni­ties they’re born into for the sake of pre­serv­ing public ed­u­ca­tion than of­fer all chil­dren free­dom, hope and op­por­tu­nity.

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