New York Mayor de Blasio: Spread the Mediocrity

In a recent column, Democrat Juan Williams wrote:

Bill de Blasio is the best thing to ever happen to the School Choice Movement.

The New York City mayor is crippling the growth of charter schools by throwing them out of rent-free space in buildings previously used by standard public schools. His strategic goal is to stop school reform even as the nation’s public school system fails so completely that a quarter of students drop out – and that is the lowest drop-out in decades.

If the mayor took notice he’d find that even the people graduating from public schools often lack basic reading and math skills. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly 30 percent of U.S. public school graduates have to take a remedial class before they can do basic college work.

Years ago I called for parents to get in the streets and start marching and screaming against this abuse of America’s children.

Now de Blasio’s crackdown on charter schools has done the trick.

Earlier this month 11,000 parents, teachers and students took to the barricades to protest de Blasio’s scheme to crush charter schools in front of the New York State Capitol in Albany. [See 3/17/14]

Actually, de Blasio’s actions help illustrate why we need total privatization of schools. If schools were privately owned and paid for by parents/students making decisions in a free marketplace, no mayor (or governor) would be able to dictate which schools win and lose. It would ultimately be up to the consumers, i.e. the parents and students attending and paying for the schools.

There is no such thing as “school choice” in a system based on coercion. Federal and local governments have essentially said, “Thou shalt have schools.” People will be forced to pay for them whether they have school-age children or not, or whether they want those particular schools or not. Right there you have eliminated freedom of competition and the incentive for excellence that goes with it.

Magnet or charter schools were an attempt to alleviate that problem. They were set up to be pockets of at least attempted excellence in a context which does not allow for such a quality.

It was only a matter of time before an ideologue such as de Blasio came along and did away with the charter schools altogether.

What animates such an ideology? You’ve heard the phrase “spread the wealth.” Under Mayor de Blasio, it’s “spread the mediocrity.” To someone with this mindset, it’s bad enough that some people have more money than others. They also resent that some children will have better schools than others, even if they have earned it through academic or intellectual excellence. His solution? Simply get rid of the discriminating schools and spread the inherent inadequacy of public schools around equally, to everyone.

In an odd kind of way, to his credit, de Blasio grasps that public schools will never deliver the excellence or innovation that a free market might have. Since he cannot and will not tolerate anything resembling a free market (including charter schools and the like), one of his first tasks as mayor was to (in effect) obliterate charter schools completely. What does this tell you about the values, priorities and alleged “compassion” of such an elected official who runs on such a platform?

If it’s school choice parents want, then they must fight for freedom to choose in a private marketplace. In order for schools to become better, we must get rid of (or at least phase out) funding via taxation. By funding schools publicly, we absolve them of the requirement to (rationally) satisfy parents and students in order to survive. Instead, their mode of survival becomes political pull.

With politicians like Mayor de Blasio coming into power, being political means equalizing everything for the sake of equalizing it. Those who aspire to anything better be damned.

In a free market for education, those who value excellence and ability (teachers and students) would always have a chance. Under despots of mediocrity like de Blasio (and most other politicians), education will end up on the ash heap of history, just like all other attempts at collective control and ownership.

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