Surprise! Black Families Love Choice, Too
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In case you were wondering, school choice is popular. Especially among those who need it most.
According to a survey released by North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship Program, 56 percent of local black voters favor public charter schools, while only 24 percent oppose them. At least 59 percent of those who participated also claimed that they support the expansion of the state’s Opportunity Scholarship Program. Twenty-three percent do not want to see the program’s expansion.
Traditional schools, which are burdened with the heavy weight of union-backed demands, often tend to perform poorly, especially when compared to the majority of charter schools and other institutions that are not government-run.
In The Origins of the Public School, Austrian economist Robert P. Murphy explains that traditional schools became widely popular once “inefficient ‘firms’” sought to influence public school leadership in order to “hinder competitors.”
Murphy notes that this incident is “common to all expansions of state power.” Adding that the defense of standardization of curricula and centralization of “the disbursement of public funds” toward public schooling originally came from those who “would benefit financially from such policies,” including trade unions, he argues that protectionism—not education—is what drives teachers to unionize and burden school systems with their demands, sacrificing productivity for wages.
By becoming closer to the business of policymaking, teachers unions saw the removal of children from the labor market and the elimination of potential competition in the education industry as the only way to secure their position. By targeting poorer families who could not afford to put their children in private institutions, these groups succeeded greatly, demanding government to have more influence in the education of American children.
The Protestant schools were losing ‘market share’, and turned to government to pad their budgets and restrict the actions of their chief competitors, the Catholic schools. In other arenas, people can quickly see through such self-interested ‘altruism’. When a corporation clamors for an import restriction on foreign competition, most observers agree that it is acting to increase its own profits, not to protect the public from ‘dumping’. Why then do most people accept at face value the humanitarian justifications offered by the advocates of state education when such a bureaucracy confers immense wealth and power in the hands of an elite?
The idea of school choice is often attacked by groups claiming to speak on behalf of the oppressed and undereducated, and yet evidence shows that choice is what makes it possible for families in underprivileged situations to achieve greatness.
Whether you agree or not about the amplification of school choice through the charter or voucher systems, the fact minorities are benefiting from the addition of private elements to the schooling system is important. Unlike prohibitionists, families who struggle to provide their children with proper education see value in school choice because they live it.
If the education business hadn’t become a government business, choice would be the norm. Until freedom is restored in full, let’s celebrate those who have discovered—on their own—that freedom is always the best choice.