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On September 22, 2015, Bruno Behrend, The Heartland Institute’s senior fellow for education policy, debated Troy LaRaviere, principal of Blaine Elementary School, and James Thindwa, the community engagement coordinator for the American Federation of Teachers, on the topic of school choice.
LaRaviere’s argument centered on data, in particular data showing year over year student achievement growth and how poverty directly relates to educational attainment. He provided charts showing the poverty relationship from The Suburban Chicago Daily Herald and his own data claiming Chicago Public Schools outperform charter schools in Chicago. LaRaviere’s school is based on the North Side of Chicago in the Wrigleyville neighborhood.
Thindwa’s primary argument centered on poverty and how America cannot fix education without fixing poverty. He said government should “not be picking winners and losers” and that school choice was a system of “winners and losers,” with many students being left behind.
Behrend focused on how the education bureaucracy in the United States stifles educational improvement by preventing competition. He also discussed how the current public school system is allowing students to fall through the cracks and yet there is no accountability, just requests for more money for the system. Behrend said the best vote a parent could make was not for mayor or alderman, but rather voting with their money. An education savings account would follow their child to the school of their choice through a “vast new array of education opportunities.”
The crowd of 20 gathered at The Heartland Institute was heavily skewed in favor of school choice. Questions from the audience concerned poverty intervention and the proper role of government in education. Examples from multiple districts were raised, including exorbitant salaries for teachers and administrators..
One question distilled the essence of school choice in a few words: Who gets to decide which school the student attends? LaRaviere answered, “The research.”
Behrend countered, “The parents.”
Video goes here
John Chubb, “A Critique of ‘The Public School Advantage: Why Public Schools Outperform Private Schools’”
Patrick Wolf, “Comparing Public Schools to Private”
Education Policy: What Matters?
As mentioned during the forum, the Bughouse Square Debate can be watched at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjMGoxRwm9k.