A Coronavirus Case for School Choice


A Facebook post by state Senator Gordon Rogers (R — Coventry, Foster, Scituate, West Greenwich) points out the significance of a maneuver by Democrat Governor Gina Raimondo:

Remember last week after the governor said schools will be opening back up to give students the three options

  1. in school instruction
  2. a hybrid of virtual and in school
  3. virtual instruction

Shortly after last weeks conference and the statement on schools opening the city of Warwick teachers (union) said nope that’s not gonna happen!!!!

Then a few other towns hinted the same.

So did you see the slick check mate statement made at today press conference from the education Commissioner “they were gonna allow students in community’s with school that do not open to be allowed to go to communities that do! Check mate

Kinda a brilliant move to force those districts to rethink that option because remember the money follows the children and the transportation costs are covered by the town the child comes from!

As always, it’s helpful to state the underlying truth of what has happened.  The governor wanted the decision about the mode of education to be up to families.  An entrenched special interest group pushed back on that directive.  The incentives for school districts are heavily weighted in favor of the special interest, rather than the families they serve, so the governor created some incentive for school committees and administrators to stand up to them.

This, in direct application, is the case for school choice all the time.  When families just have to follow along with what their city or town’s school department decides, they are effectively captive.  Yes, they can vote for the school committee and/or mayor, but that power is limited by the number of candidates and the large mix of issues to consider.  Moreover, the incentive structure is against reform:  The benefits of being on a school committee are pretty meager and, in any event, pale in comparison with the attacks and discomfort a member will face if he or she attempts to change the system in a significant way.

So: school choice.  It pits the pressure of the special-interest-dominated system against the incentive that parents have to secure a better education for their children (and that taxpayers have to get value for their money).  School committee members then have to make decisions understanding that they can deal with problems now or later, in worse circumstances.

  • Lou

    Funny how you can try to make an argument again populism when you don’t like the outcome.

  • Joe Smith

    they were gonna allow students in community’s with school that do not open to be allowed to go to communities that do! Check mate

    LOL _ NOT Check mate at all. Here’s why. Most schools with any kind of reopening in person are already doing so based on pushing the Gov’s guidance on busing and spacing, etc. Maybe say a Tiverton with only 500 kids in a HS and probably some opting out — but throw in the transportation if your kid is say in Warwick?

    The inperson schools are NOT looking to add any out of district kids, especially when the sending districts will not pay and force a contentious battle with RIDE. While RIDE might side with the receiving district, the sending district would then file in superior court simply arguing they provided a similar education – and then Gina has to argue that even her school district like Providence (that is opening only partially) that distance was not as good as in person. Then the sending district would argue some parents did opt for distance so how can FAPE be decided solely on the health fears of each household?

    She says somethings off the cuff when her temper gets up — and should have bit her tongue on Warwick.

    The SMART thing would simply have a bunch of SPED and other parents file a FAPE lawsuit and then let RIDE side with the parents in a very narrow setting of only all distance. Saying “oh we’ll grant choice” — and maybe it was the RIDE Commissioner who said that was ill advised because when COVID goes away – as you note – why not argue it for other reasons?

    She should have simply said “well I guess they’ve considered the law suits they’re going to get from a lot of parents” (hint, hint). Seriously, you think EG is going to take Warwick kids when they’re already on the 50% model?

    The governor wanted the decision about the mode of education to be up to families. — CRAP statement as well.

    If the governor wanted that, she should have adopted the CT reopening guidance. That guidance basically said — Build a full in person model and tell us how risky you need to be on things like bus capacity, class room space, etc. Then ask parents knowing they can have an inperson OR distance model and see how the numbers go.

    Then work with us to see if 80% bus capacity can work. or you need 18 kids in the classroom or I can send the NG to set up field kitchens in the parking lots — tents, lol. How much have schools spent on safety items and put kids out in the open in tents..

    Gina said – Here are all the stringent safety measures plus a few of my own I’ll add (by the way my kids go to Private Schools with big endowments and are exempt from my guidance except for mandatory closure). Then, do a full in person and when you can’t, I’ll chide you so I look goody with parents and then have an excuse to close you down that the unions want.

    Commanders set the vision and goals — they don’t then tell the tactics and parameters and go — okay now that you are appropriately tied down figure out how to climb the hill.

    She’s just trying to keep her PR up for a Biden cabinet job..she’ll probably need extreme therapy if Trump wins and she has to fake it 2 more years..

  • Joe Smith

    More Gina snake oil selling — remember that $250M transformational bond for the “once in a lifetime” investment — and her and Magaziner said in response to Trillo that it will be spread proportionally to all districts..

    Well, 75% spent and hardly transformational — is Providence all fixed and they have gotten almost 30% of the funding? Some small districts with huge amounts and some districts getting even less than pretty new charter schools..