School choice and localism | IN 60 SECONDS


After the 2016 election, some school
choice advocates hoped for a huge federal choice initiative. But the last two
decades of federal K-12 policy demonstrates why that might not be so
wise. Big, bold Washington reforms can misunderstand the important differences
between communities; generate bulky, clumsy programs; and as a result, engender
resentment among local stakeholders. So choice advocates might thank Uncle Sam
for his interest, but ask him to step back. For 25 years, states and locals have
led on school choice, and to great effect! Today, three million children attend
charters, and another half million are using the various private school choice
programs. This has been built on a humbler approach to policymaking than
swift, certain DC initiatives. It elevates parents, local nonprofits, and state
leaders – those who know their communities inside and out, and who will have to live
with the consequences of their decisions. Yes, they might move more slowly at first
and make course corrections along the way, but the result can be smart, tailored
programs that have deep local support. We should continue to trust federalism and
localism when it comes to school choice. What do you think about Uncle Sam’s role
in school choice? Let us know in your comments, and to learn more, read my
article in the AEI publication “This Way Up.” Also, let us know what other topics
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