Avid education blogger and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch yesterday posted a letter from a teacher titled “Do Parents Always Know What is Best?” The author was writing in response to Louisiana Commissioner of Education John White’s statement that parents know what is best for their child and therefore should be able to choose the best school for their child. The author takes umbrage with White’s statement and writes:
I am tired of this attitude about parents knowing what is best for their children . . . If their child broke his leg they would not try to fix it themselves even if they did not have health insurance. They would take the child to a health care professional. So what in God’s name is wrong with taking your child to an Education Professional?
On its face, this argument seems valid. Parents cannot be expected to have an expertise in all areas and in fact, they do consult with a variety of professionals to help take care of their children. Why, then, should education be different?
The problem with this argument is that in other areas of life, including the medical field, parents have some sort of choice. This is not always the case in education. In most areas, students are assigned to schools based on where they live. Some local public schools are wonderful, while some schools are woefully inadequate. We would not accept this type of system in other fields, so why do we allow it in education?
To answer the question that the author posed — “So what in God’s name is wrong with taking your child to an Education Professional?” — nothing is wrong with entrusting your child to the care of another. But let parents, not the government, make the decision on which “Education Professional” their child will see.