A blog post by National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia has popped up a few times with little to no traction, so ReformerRed isn’t going to help the piece along by linking to it here. However, it is worth addressing to set the record straight.
Garcia warns caveat emptor! Let the buyer beware when seeking alternatives to failing public schools.
Supporters of education reform in the United States argue the opposite. Caveat venditor! Let the seller (in this case, Garcia and the Status Quo) beware when the product fails to meet the standard of quality consumers expect and deserve.
Of course, caveat venditor has little meaning in a market where only one product sits on the shelf and the consumer is deprived the freedom of choice. That’s the current monopoly Ms. Garcia advocates for today – a world in which parents and children have been forced to accept flat achievement scores for the last forty years, despite huge increases in education funding. Students dropping out or failing to graduate remain high especially among African-American males, and parents of minority students must continue to accept wide racial achievement gaps year after year.
Why? Because for most families, it’s the only game in town.
Despite Ms. Garcia’s assertions to the contrary (assertions based largely on statistics from OECD nations whose public education systems rank far above our own in terms of achievement), parents and children are best served by an open market that forces schools to take responsibility for their educational mission – and that empowers parents and children to opt for a different school when that mission is neglected.
It’s simple economics. Monopolies harm consumers. It’s why we have antitrust laws that govern nearly every industry in the U.S. other than the one that matters most