Organizers behind National School Choice Week, held in late January, announced Tuesday it will have the support of political strategists Joe Trippi and Dick Morris.
The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice states: ”School choice gives parents financial power by letting them use public funds set aside for education to send their children to a public or private school of their choice.” And: “School choice gives parents the freedom to choose a school – public or private, near or far, religious or secular – that works best for their children regardless of where they live.”
School choice today is centered on, but not limited to charter schools, which are publicly funded and often privately managed.
The National School Choice Week website writes: “This revolution — called School Choice — provides an essential ingredient for this call for action: school options.”
Dick Morris has “handled the campaigns of politicians Trent Lott, William Weld, Pete Wilson” and many others, and wrote in 2011 that “states like Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and others have revolutionized public education passing bills to curb teacher tenure, adopt merit pay, and end layoffs based on seniority.”
Morris, a former Clinton White House advisor who resigned after being photographed with prostitutes, is now a staunch conservative commentator who frequently appears on Fox News to bash Democrats. He founded the Super PAC for America.
Gov. Rick Scott said at a gathering for conservative politicians and organizations in August that his administration has done four things in education: eliminate more teacher tenure; pay teachers based on standardized test results; support and increase charter schools (which Scott defined as public schools run by a third party), and offer scholarships.
Education historian Diane Ravitch, who supported but now opposes the “reform” movement led by conservatives like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, wrote (.pdf) in December:
The philanthropists and Wall Street hedge fund managers and Republicans and the Obama administration and assorted rightwing billionaires have some ideas about how to change American education. They aren’t teachers but they think they know how to fix the schools.
Their ideas boil down to this strategy: [No Child Left Behind] NCLB failed because we didn’t use enough carrots and sticks. They say that schools should operate like businesses, because the free market is more efficient than government. So these reformers—I call them corporate reformers—advocate market-based reforms.
The No Child Left Behind Act, signed into law in January 2002 by George W. Bush and supported by the Obama administration, mandated standardized testing that evaluates teachers by score results.
Joe Trippi, known as a Democratic campaign strategist, “worked for Ted Kennedy, Walter Mondale and Gary Hart and turned Howard Dean into an unlikely front runner in 2004.”
In October, during NBC’s Education Nation Summit, Trippi said he came to the school choice movement because “things just aren’t working,” adding “I don’t want to demonize teachers, I don’t want to demonize the union, that’s not why I’m here.”
Jeanne Allen, president of Center for Education Reform, adds in the video that “Democrats, to their credit, increasingly still by no means the majority, have slowly but surely gotten religion when it comes to school choice.” She added: “reformers and non-reformers alike say, ‘We can work with the unions. Shouldn’t we try? They’re not going away any time soon. Really, we can’t make them go away?’”
Democrats for Education Reform states: “We believe that reforming broken public school systems cannot be accomplished by tinkering at the margins, but rather through bold and revolutionary leadership. This requires opening up the traditional top-down monopoly of most school systems and empowering all parents to access great schools for their children.”