Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos compared school choice to having the option of using a ride-sharing service like Uber or hailing a conventional taxi.
“Nobody mandates that you take an Uber over a taxi, nor should they. But if you think ridesharing is the best option for you, the government shouldn’t get in your way,” Devos said during a speech at the Brookings Institution. “The truth is that in practice, people like having more options. They like being able to choose between Uber Pool, Uber X, Lyft Line, Lyft Plus, and many others,” Devos continued, adding that if Americans “celebrate the benefits of choices in transportation and lodging” (Airbnb) then why not for education. (RELATED: People Were Stranded In Austin Because Of Uber And Lyft Restrictions)
She explained that competition in education through the choice of enrolling in private, charter or public schools, worries the more established institutions — just like in transportation.
“Just as the traditional taxi system revolted against ridesharing, so too does the education establishment feel threatened by the rise of school choice. In both cases, the entrenched status quo has resisted models that empower individuals,” said Devos.
Russ Whitehurst, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who moderated the event with Devos, didn’t agree with portions of her statements.
“Choice is merely the precondition for new systems of delivering education, not a guarantee of success of those systems relative to the traditional school district model,” Whitehurst said, referring to the notion that competition doesn’t guarantee success and could actually mean that certain low-income families could be forced to go to public schools due to affordability and proximity.
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