School Choice, Neoliberalism Hurt Public Goods and Education – The Atlantic

Schools are a public good that extreme market proliferation would eventually destroy.

the argument over “school of choice” is only the latest chapter in a decades-long political struggle between two models of freedom—one based on market choice and the other based on democratic participation. Neoliberals like DeVos often assume that organizing public spaces like a market must lead to beneficial outcomes. But in doing so, advocates of school of choice ignore the political ramifications of the marketization of shared goods like the educational system.

markets always have winners and losers … should all goods in a society be subjected to the forces of creative destruction? What happens to a community when its public schools are defunded or closed because they could not “compete” in a marketized environment?

Market competition in the context of schools thus opens the possibility for a vicious cycle in which weak and low-performing communities are punished for their failings and wealthy communities receive greater and greater funding advantages. Americans should ask themselves a basic question of justice when it comes to the education system: Should it be organized around a model in which the more you win the more you get, and the more you lose the less you are given?

Free societies need educated members to intelligently and critically deliberate over public life, select representatives, and help guide policy decisions. Market freedom is thus in tension with the freedom of democratic participation. … There is a basic tension between neoliberal market choice and democratic freedom to shape one’s community in ways that do not conform to market logic.

there is also undeniable merit in efforts to experiment with education on a more local level … America’s public schools—like all institutions—are in constant need of reform, rejuvenation, and innovation.

But debates about “freedom” and educational reform might be more constructive if participants center their questions around democratic freedoms—the freedom of every citizen to access education and the freedom of various communities to shape what that education looks like.

Educational policy in democratic societies should be subject to spirited and even intense debate and disagreement. Yet attempts to reduce freedom to markets and consumer choice remains in serious tension with democratic liberties and ideals of self-government. Future debates might be no less vigorous while also seeking alternatives to a simplistic equivalency between markets and “choice.”

Source: School Choice, Neoliberalism Hurt Public Goods and Education – The Atlantic by Jason Blakely, assistant professor of political philosophy at Pepperdine University