The list of reasons usually given for liberal and left-wing opposition to school choice (i.e., a voucher system) as an alternative to the primacy of public school education is a familiar one. Labor unions, particularly those representing teachers in our public schools, typically identify with liberal political, social, and economic positions and they support liberal politicians who in turn champion union interests.
In addition to this broad, symbiotic relationship and ideological affinity, the public schools are also viewed by the left as universal equalizers where wealth and social status amount to little in terms of what’s available by way of educational opportunity.
Further – and perhaps most significantly – the public schools have long been viewed as principal engines and custodians of an American egalitarian ethos.
Thus, starting from the advent of FDR’s New Deal, a left of center credo glorifying substantial government involvement in everyday life was eagerly embraced by the liberal establishment, which of course included the public-school teaching community. It was offered up as a framework for what was to be taught about political, social, and economic issues.
Over time, this liberal outlook became a self-perpetuating fixture in educational circles and school faculties.
It has long been posited that politics in America is largely a matter of Tweedledum and Tweedledee, with scarcely any real policy differences between Democrats and Republicans. However, the Trump victory strongly suggests we are in the midst of a fundamental shift away from leftist principles. So it can be expected that the left will seek to strengthen its hold on the minds of American schoolchildren by seeking increased growth of the public school sector and a de-emphasis on the non-public sector as an acceptable alternative.
We have already seen the trashing, by many on the left, of traditional notions of policymaking. What else are we to make of the all-encompassing self-righteous frenzy against the Trump administration? And will this implacability toward the administration’s alternatives to the left’s agenda become part of a new public school curriculum? Will we no longer teach young people that in America we express our opposition to specific policies or administrations through the ballot box and by political debate?
Will our students be taught that overt and obstructionist political warfare – including demonstrations and intimidation – is an appropriate response to political decisions with which we might disagree?
Put another way, will our students henceforth be instructed that they are free to disregard election results?
There may well be negatives with respect to school choice. But they are not what is driving the left’s opposition. It is, rather, the control of the minds of our young. It thus behooves us to redouble our efforts to support school choice, if only as a means of countering the left’s aggressive attempts to demonize any alternative views.