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I posted this law review article in 2015. It remains one of my favorites. Her argument is straightforward. Abandoning the public school system is an assault on the rights of most children, especially the most vulnerable.
I wrote when I posted it nearly three years ago:
Osamudia R. James is a law professor at the University of Miami School of Law. She is a scholar of race and equity. She has written a scholarly article that was published in the Iowa Law Review titled “Opt-Out Education: School Choice as Racial Subordination.” I hope that readers of this blog will take the time to read it. It is an important legal analysis of the social inequities caused by school choice.
As more children are induced to leave the public school system, the public schools are less able to provide a decent education for those who remain behind. Many of those who leave will attend charter schools and voucher schools that are no better and possibly worse than the public school they abandoned. The harm done to children by this strategy is powerful, and the harm done to society is incalculable.
James advocates for limitations on school choice “to prevent the disastrous social consequences–the abandonment of the public school system, to particularly deleterious consequence for poor and minority schoolchildren and their families–that occur as the collective result of individual, albeit rational, decisions. I also advocate for limitations on school choice in an attempt to encourage individuals to consider their obligations to children not their own, but part of their community all the same….The actual impact of school choice cannot be ignored. Given the radicalized realities of the current education system, choice is not ultimately used to broaden options or agency for minority parents. Rather, school choice is used to sanitize inequality in the school system; given sufficient choices, the state and its residents are exempted from addressing the sources of unequal educational opportunities for poor and minority students. States promote agency even as the subjects supposedly exercising that agency are disabled. Experience makes clear that school choice simply should not form an integral or foundational aspect of education reform policy. Rather, the focus should be on improving public schooling for all students such that all members of society can exercise genuine agency, initially facilitated by quality primary and secondary education. Ultimately, improving public education begins with preventing its abandonment.