So what do parents wind up doing? The kinds of things Bill Cosby was talking about: getting on waiting lists, standing in line at ungodly hours, writing letters, making phone calls. And all in the hope that maybe -- just maybe -- they’ll be among the lucky few. Cosby’s right: Plain and simple, this isn’t fair. Parents deserve better.
So do our kids. Federal spending on education has been skyrocketing since the Bush administration, but educational outcomes have not. Graduation rates are no better now than they were in the 1970s (about 75 percent nationally, but significantly worse in some urban areas). The latest Program for International Student Assessment shows that 17 out of 33 developed nations, including Estonia and Slovenia, have higher math scores than the U.S. We’re not much better off when it comes to reading -- or to closing the gap between white and minority students.
“School choice is a civil rights issue,” says Michelle Bernard, head of The Bernard Center for Women, Politics & Public Policy. “It is the natural extension of Brown v. Board of Education, of what Thurgood Marshall and Dr. Martin Luther King talked about -- access to great schools for families. Parents marched for equal rights; today, they should be marching for school choice.” So why aren’t we?
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