Home > Uncategorized > This Just In: Our Public “Government” Schools are Governed Democratically

This Just In: Our Public “Government” Schools are Governed Democratically

October 24, 2019

I recently received tis comment/question from a commenter:

Whom do you think should make decisions about a child’s schooling – his or her parents, or bureaucrats? 

Here was my response:

First and foremost, I do not believe the consumer model applies to education. Rather, schools are a public good that should be robustly funded through a fair and equitable system of taxation. If we ever had such a fair and equitable funding system all public schools would provide all children with a fully comprehensive education. Clearly, we don’t have that.

For better or worse parents currently “choose” their schools based on where they “choose” to live. Under this system “bureaucrats” have no say on where parents “choose” to live… nor do they have a say in setting boundaries in large In multi-school districts. The decision on school boundary lines is ultimately made by democratically elected school boards or democratically elected mayors. The decision on who chooses to live in affluent communities or affluent neighborhoods is not made by bureaucrats either. History is replete with examples of how democratically elected officials developed policies or passed laws that preclude enrollment across pre-existing school district boundaries.

Bottom line: in our democracy, if parents want to make unrestricted choices about where their children attend schools they need to elect officials who will support their thinking on that idea. And… if parents want fair and equitable funding of our existing public schools they need to elect officials who will support their thinking on that idea.

For the 29 years I served as a public school superintendent (or “chief bureaucrat”) there were several times when I wished the publicly elected School Boards I worked for saw things the way I did…. and EVERY year I bemoaned the fact that State legislators did not place a high enough premium on equitable school funding. In the end, though, I realized that the folks I worked for were elected by the voters in the community I served and reflected the views in that community. As Churchill famously said,

democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.

I don’t like everyone who has been elected and I have yet to find any politician who shares each and every value I hold dear… but I don’t want to trade democracy for other forms that have been tried from time to time.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:
<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: