On Opting Out


It appears that somewhere between 137,000 opted out of the New York state English exam.

About 100,000 students in New York have opted out of traditional public schools to attend public charter schools.

Many of the test opt out leaders criticize the charter school opt out families for privatizing, and thus ruining, public education.

Many of the charter opt out leaders criticize the test opt-out families for undermining accountability systems that are meant to protect poor and minority students.

It is interesting that both opt out groups:

(1) View the current state of traditional public education as flawed.

(2) Believe it is morally just to opt out of the parts of public education they most dislike.

(3) Believe it is morally unjust to opt out of the parts of public education they most like.

What to make of this?

One could conclude that all the opting out demonstrates that our existing public education structures do not allow for enough flexibility to meet the diverse needs and wants of our population – and that we should move toward a more voucherized system.

Alternatively, one could conclude that this the nature of democracy: various groups will debate how we should structure our public institutions until one group wins or a compromise is struck; as such,   we should not interpret the opting-out as a sign that our public educational institutions are incapable of providing a great education to a diverse array of students.

What do you think?

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