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As we descend--and let's make no mistake about it, it is a descent--deeper into this market-based approach to education/public schooling (i.e. for profit on-line learning options and for profit charter schools), we need to remember that efficiency models (market theory) create winners and losers. Even if competition and choice drive an overall improvement in quality (something many local school districts have seen with the emphasis on choice (AP, IB, CSI, dual enrollment, early college, etc.) in recent years, "that improvement has been (predictably) inequitable and the overall gains have come (to an extent) at the expense of the further diminishment of opportunities and attainment for the most disadvantaged students" (Lubienski's "The Public School Advantage: Why Public Schools Outperform Private Schools").

It seems, that while our speciality programs (AP, IB, CSI, dual-enrollment, early college enrollment, etc.) have benefitted high achievers and the academically advantaged, they have isolated low-achievers and (unsurprisingly) have widened the achievement gap.  In short, institutionalizing this market-based approach (even at just the local level) has created winners and losers--as it always does. 

This has been reflected by the growing achievement gaps between the highest and lowest performing students within even affluent districts like Troy, Birmingham, and Grosse Pointe. That this achievement gap between students within a school or district is being mirrored statewide between schools in disadvantaged districts (that have since been invaded by the EAA) was an inevitability given the free market model being promoted by our Governor and Legialature. It is precisely what free markets do: they create winners and losers.

So the real issue is whether or not we--as constituents--want an educational system that institutionalizes inequality and disparity of opportunity. If you prefer the current market-based approach, you are voting for an inequitable system that will determine a large percentage of kids, schools, and districts losers so that a few (already advantaged) students, schools, districts can be declared winners. If you prefer the traditional public school model, then you are voting for a system in which a local community of children, families, teachers, and district leaders works to maximize students' potential. 

I vote for the latter. 

 

 

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