According to an article posted on the Mlive.com news site, some Kalamazoo County public school officials are complaining that Lansing politicians want to “eliminate public schools.” Such alarmist rhetoric like this is not uncommon from education bureaucrats, although taxpayers might find the timing a bit odd given that both the state House and Senate have just increased education funding to nearly $13 billion next year.
What really frightens the conventional public school establishment, however, is not the amount politicians decide to spend on schools, but losing its monopoly on students thanks to other actions the Legislature recently took, namely lifting the cap on the number of charter public schools. The tipoff comes when a member of that establishment claims that “we’re being set up for failure,” in part because of the increased competition from charters.
The Mlive.com article cited another who fears the potential competition from online “cyber schools,” an expansion of which also passed the House this week. This individual sneered that politicians “want to get give kids computers and let them sit at home” (a statement that among other things shows a need for some remedial education on what the online learning revolution is all about).
What’s really going on here is not a power struggle between local school districts and Lansing, but one between the K-12 public school establishment and parents. Every time a parent says “no thanks” to the product conventional public schools offer, instead entrusting his or her child’s education to a charter public school, thousands of tax dollars follow that child out of the old school and into the new one.
In the end, what public school monopolists really oppose is giving parents more control over their children’s education. The truth is, not a single tax dollar goes to a charter school unless parents make a conscientious decision to choose it over the conventional public school. Rather than spinning dark conspiracy theories for reporters who should know better, conventional school officials would serve the public better by instead looking for ways to make their own product more attractive to parents.