Charter Schools (“the Public Option”) Hurt Private Ones

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Scott Watson wanted to know if my new book discusses charter schools. Yes, and negatively. Here’s Scott’s own very good letter to the editor:

Charter Schools Aren’t Really a Free Market Idea

According to press accounts, the “Initiative Learning Center” (ILC) started by Nancy McDonald is shutting down. One recent story explained that enrollment at the ILC was “cut in half during the past five years as its leadership saw an influx of area charter schools draw students.” Another report noted that “The floundering economy and competition from new charter schools contributed to McDonald’s decision.”

In a segment of the KBGN program, Legislative Watch, last January, host Elizabeth Allan Hodge lauded the recent movement toward parental choice in education. However, later in the program Mrs. Hodge and Darrell Deide, a representative for Idahoans for School Choice in Education, promoted tax funded charter schools as a “choice” that should be expanded.

Hodge didn’t disguise her enthusiasm for charter schools, which she thinks should flourish: “I certainly believe in a free market system and I think one of the wonderful things about the charter school is it … gives people a choice and it certainly does brings an element of competition.”

Deide likewise endorsed charter schools as a viable and important “choice” for parents and students. According to Deide, charter schools raise the bar for all schools.

Whatever their merits, tax-funded charter schools are not a free market alternative. Like every other government program, they are funded through legalized plunder — taxation — and drive out legitimate free market alternatives, such as Nancy McDonald’s private Initiative Learning Center.

Authentic conservatives should recognize that a “choice” funded through legalized plunder is not truly a choice.

Scott Watson
Homedale, Idaho

1:38 pm on November 17, 2009