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School Choice

School choice needs to be for everyone

Kristen Forbriger recently wrote a piece at Philly Mag on the very same magazine's recent cover on school choice, which highlights the very real problem that being able to choose your school often means being white and wealthy.
As the articles show, the school choice process in Philadelphia is really complicated, even for those with the resources to navigate it. There’s a myth that increased options are THE problem; the variety of schools of different types with separate applications have made it too complicated for families. The common refrain goes, “Why can’t we just make all neighborhood schools great? Then we wouldn’t have to worry about navigating choices, applications and deadlines!” That argument ignores this fact: those with the ability to buy it have always had and taken advantage of school choice. By buying a home in a different school district or paying for a private education, middle and upper-income families like mine have exercised school choice for decades. Philly Mag’s controversial cover photo, while evidently a mistake, seems to be a shout-out to the white families who are making the choice to stay in the city and enroll their kids at a great public, charter or private school. There are many reasons to applaud this choice, but the more important, often ignored point is that having that choice is a privilege in the current system. Our challenge now is to create a system of great schools where every family has equal access to choices, regardless of race or income.

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