School choice is not an either/or for this superintendent

Can school choice and quality public schools coexist? The research says yes, and so does Superintendent Kurt Browning in Florida, who calls himself a “champion of choice.”

“You can sit around and bemoan the fact that you’re going to have kids leaving traditional, public K12 systems, and have the state pay for private education,” says Browning, who was named Magnet Schools of America’s 2022-23 superintendent of the year. “I used it as an opportunity to tell my team we need to make sure we’re on our A-game. We want to be our parents’ first choice. We need to be our parents’ first choice.”

And that’s the importance of a competitive marketplace — there is a pressure to provide an excellent product/service knowing that there are other options for individuals to choose from. This type of market pressure doesn’t exist when there is a monopoly.

Just as an alternative learning environment to a government school can woo parents for a variety of reasons, so too can a traditional public school.

Superintendent Browning’s district “boasts two early college high schools, three STEAM magnet schools at the elementary level and four STEM magnet programs in middle and high school,” reports Matt Zalaznick with District Administration. You can’t “keep doing the status quo” and think you aren’t risking becoming “irrelevant” as a traditional K-12 school district, according to Browning.

Florida’s robust educational freedom “has forced districts to be customer-service oriented as parents now have more choices,” continues Zalaznick.

As parents continue to evaluate whether their children’s needs are being met by what government schools have to offer, the concern shouldn’t first be losing funding (which, by the way, numerous studies show isn’t happening from school choice) but why families are leaving if traditional public schools are as good as the education establishment claims.