More Copley – Fairlawn Prison

Smart take on the “Akron mom” saga from Ohio Gadfly. Background can be found here.

3 Replies to “More Copley – Fairlawn Prison”

  1. “After all, she had many school-choice options available to her” is unconvicing when 4 paragarphs earlier the author acknowledges that there were barriers to these options, such as unavailability of secular schools, waiting lists, and the proximity of the schools to her father’s house. Despite there being a chance that some families can get the school options they want, many cannot, and are stuck hoping for some luck at the local charter lottery. I think this article incorrectly downplays these barriers to effective school choice, and does so while condescendingly wagging a finger at everyone else for bringing these issues up.

    Yes, we need to educate parents better on their options, but hell no are school-choice options readily available for all. Both are important discussions to have.

  2. Chris,

    Williams-Bolar had at least four school choice options, which is far more than what many families have. This was a point we thought was missing from the debate. Ohio has open-enrollment, as well as a robust voucher program that she could have tapped into. Many – but certainly not all – voucher-receiving schools are non-secular. And there are at least three or four high-performing Akron schools she could have transferred her kids to (not all of which would have had waiting lists). The point we are making is that contrary to what most commentators are saying – she had several options. The larger issue is that she didn’t utilize them. That’s a question that the school choice community needs to confront. Why didn’t she use her options? And how can we make families and parents more aware when there are viable choices? Creating more pathways to school choice isn’t enough if well-intentioned families don’t use them! We don’t downplay the barriers at all and we never mentioned the issue about the father’s address (?). Paperwork and a possible waiting list are no worse a barrier than all of the paperwork she forged and the work that she went to to get her kids into the other school. Finally, we’re not arguing that there are “school choice options readily available for all.” Fordham is a choice advocate and is in full support of Ohio lifting moratoriums on e-schools, geographic restrictions on charter schools, and the cap on vouchers. The point was merely to point out this vital piece missing from the story.

  3. As I said, I agree that there were options, but the existence of these options doesn’t suggest we should ignore the barriers in front of said options, or on how those barriers affect families along racial/socioeconomic lines. Waiting lists are more than just “paperwork”, the proximity to available schools is crucial (she felt her kids would be safer had they attended a school nearer their grandparents’ house), and no one should consider non-secular schools an example of the myriad choices available to families considering they’re supposed to have a choice of secular institutions.

    I agree that parents should be better counseled on their choices in all cases, but branding those of us as disingenuous because we’ve chosen to discuss the real barriers to the existence of choice between good, safe schools/neighborhoods is a crock.

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