While respondents like most what school choice implies--freedom, competition, and equality--when it comes to improving the public schools that respondents rated as "poor" and "fair," respondents identified smaller class size, additional technology, and greater accountability as providing the best avenues for improving those schools not school choice. In other words, respondents believe that structural, status-quo reform options will turn around those poor and fair public schools.
Carpenter argues that the ideology supporting traditional public school models--evident, for example, in the attitude of "fixing" poor and fair public schools rather than "reforming" public education--is what school choice supporters must overcome if their efforts are to prove successful.
In that regard, The Motley Monk would note that research does not "prove" that any of those structural, status-quo reform options have worked. If they did, where are the results after having poured trillions of taxpayer dollars into public schools--especially urban and rural public schools--to implement those options during the past five decades? Yet, the rhetoric emanating from those who have a stake in and continue to push the status quo suggests otherwise.
Carpenter notes that there is reason for hope.
Support for charter schools hovers around 43%. This doesn't mean, however, that 57% oppose charter schools. As Carpenter notes, support for charter schools two times the percentage of opposition to charter schools, with the remainder being comprised of people having no opinion.
Unless the ideology of public schooling can be changed, pro-status quo ideologues and politicians will continue to call for billions and billions of additional taxpayer dollars to be poured into the institutions supporting that ideology. The outcome will be that poor and fair schools will not improve.
The losers will be all of those students who are compelled to attend those poor and fair schools who might otherwise have the chance to receive a decent, if not quality education.
Let the discussion begin...
To read Dick Carpenter's study, click on the following link:
"School Choice Signals: Research Review and Survey Experiments."