Not really that much of a choice after all

Recently, Gov. Rick Snyder offered a proclamation declaring Jan. 22-28 as School Choice Week.

Gov. Snyder has been, and remains, a big advocate of School Choice.

He’s not alone.

The idea of School Choice has created some very, very odd bedfellows — from President Barack Obama to the Heritage Foundation. Civil Rights activists promote the cause as do the hyper-conservative Koch brothers.

Wow! One might think if School Choice has such full-spectrum, broad-based support, it simply must be a good thing.

Well ...

Not really — and especially not really for parents, kids, and communities that simply don’t have that many choices.

For example, in Osceola County, School Choice is a bad choice. That’s all there is to it.

Proponents of School Choice programs, such as Snyder, kicked off the week of celebration claiming they were simply trying to ensure “...effective education options for every child.”

It’s important that people understand that School Choice is not necessarily the same as the School of Choice programs that are already up and running in this area.

Look. If parents want their kids to go to Evart, Reed City or Big Rapids school districts, Crossroads, St. Mary’s, Trinity Lutheran, Daystar Academy or McBain NMC, they already have that option.

There already is choice.

But that’s not what the governor and other proponents of School Choice are suggesting.

To cut to the brassiest of tacks, School Choice is a cover for an old shell game — school vouchers.

Let’s be honest — School Choice is a great way to ruin public education, create an educational elite, and most important for some (pay attention, please), break the teachers unions both at a state and national level.

That’s what they want to do. That is really the end game.

Snyder and his team, with the giggly support of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the DeVos family (who couldn’t do this on their own), are aiming to effectively ruin public education and turn the entire system into a business structure operation.

Problem is, no matter how you spin it, the opportunities being offered students in public education institutions around the state cannot be measured in terms of business successes and business achievements.

Osceola, Mecosta and Lake County residents need to pay attention. School Choice will bring about the marginalization of students in rural communities who have little or no opportunity to tap into the highly vaunted options suggested in School Choice doctrine.

What may be good for the Snyder children will simply not be available or within reach to virtually any parents, families or students in rural districts.

The program of school vouchers, which is the keystone program to School Choice, will simply channel public funding away from public schools and allow already economically capable parents to more easily pay for private school educations.

Is effectively tapping into voucher programs a reality in inner-cities, rural school districts or for ethnic parents?

No, even if a parent in Osceola County could in some way access a school such as Cranbrook Academy or Detroit Country Day, even if they could get there, (or even to some school closer at hand), they would most probably never be able to make up the cost difference. How much will a $7,000 voucher help an inner-city or rural family hoping to see their student enrolled in a $23,000 per year school? Not much.

Snyder and his buddies on the other hand can make up the difference, and they’ll save money in the offing.

Many families in Osceola, Mecosta or Lake counties can’t even afford the money or time to get their students to Big Rapids, so ...

Tough luck? Is that the story, Governor?

If you have the money or the wherewithal to get your kids out of public education, they’ll get a quality education.

But those kids who stay in public schools for whatever reason ... well ... life sucks.

Snyder and the Mackinac Center team enthusiastically (if subtly), support a system of differential education — a tier system. Poor kids, rural kills, ethnic kids, kids whose parents can’t “choose” will be left way behind — on the lower tier.

In lower tier schools, not only will kids continue to struggle in an under-funded system, but their teachers will be blamed, blamed again and blamed some more.

School Choice and the voucher program means less money for public education. That’s all there is to it.

When there is less funding for public schools, rural and poor communities simply eat s**t.

School Choice promotes the dismantling of public education, no matter how you paint this picture.

Rather than blaming teachers and rather than limiting funding as both a punitive measure and by encouraging School Choice, the governor and his team ought to be considering the root problems facing education and educators today — poverty, unemployment, crumbling home and family life, shrinking education budgets and burgeoning class sizes

School Choice, Mr. Governor, is a bluff.

It’s a bluff that will benefit the wealthy and do nothing, nothing for poor and rural communities.

And despite Obama’s rather odd support, this is, in fact, both a partisan and a class issue.

Say what you will.