Greater school choice would help close the achievement gap

Editor’s note: This commentary from R. Craig Wood, professor of educational administration at the University of Florida, appeared Tuesday in the Gainesville Sun.

Much of the popular discussion involving public elementary and secondary education revolves around terms such as “social justice” and “systemic racism,” although these terms are not consistently defined or understood by those utilizing them.

Specifically, it is the achievement gap between majority and minority students that is reflecting these specific concerns by those advocating “social justice.” Despite a range of attempts, the achievement gap has steadily persisted throughout the state and the nation.

In the state of Florida, the achievement gap has remained approximately the same over the years. Large achievement gaps also exist between majority students and those who are English language learners, and who come from homes of poverty.

Despite the continuing attempt of large public school districts in the state to close the achievement gap, the educational establishment refuses to address the most obvious of alternatives: choice. The left-wing educational establishment fails to acknowledge the utilization of vouchers, charters, micro schools and even greater choice as a viable and cost-effective alternative to closing the achievement gap.

The facts are rather clear and obvious. The refusal of the left-leaning educational establishment, the teachers’ unions and state policy makers to acknowledge such a hybrid system does, in fact, demonstrate “systemic racism.”

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