Last week, Jon Hale, professor of education at the University of Illinois, spoke with Illinois-based public schools advocate (and former DCPS parent) Peter MacPherson. Their hour-long conversation, linked below and recorded for this blog, covers topics in Hale’s recently released book, The Choice We Face: How Segregation, Race, and Power Have Shaped America’s Most Controversial Education Reform Movement. A history of school choice in American public schools, Hale’s book outlines how school choice was founded on principles of segregation and perpetuates it.
The conversation here touches on that history to the present, including the embrace of free market thinking in public schools touted by economist Milton Friedman; anti-unionism; and recent backlashes against public education.
Hale and MacPherson also discuss how school choice was never designed to benefit everyone–most especially those without political power. Observing a familiar phenomenon in DC school governance, Hale discusses how there is almost no effort anywhere to ask teachers and students what will work in our publicly funded schools.
Noting that school choice has not produced what it has promised, Hale points out that longstanding funding cuts in schools have ensured that the very notion of competition that school choice is based on can never be fulfilled. After all, he notes, “it’s not a competition if you don’t have resources.”