David R. Garcia

Sometimes, political points regarding privatization, public benefit, democratic values, and government control are made using the issues and debates surrounding school choice. David Garcia provides a clear, impartial, and complete overview of school choice in this installment of the MIT Press Essential Knowledge series without resorting to partisan arguments. He begins by outlining the various options for schooling, such as homeschooling, private institutions, freedom-of-choice programs, magnet and charter schools, vouchers, and education savings accounts. The lengthy history of school desegregation and disagreements about the roles and responsibilities of government come across as two themes that are particularly poignant in the American school choice debate. Is education a public good benefiting society as a whole, or a private good, serving the interests of the individual?

The elimination of government bureaucracies, the introduction of competition into education through market forces, the promotion of parental choice, and the portrayal of school choice as a civil right are among the main justifications for school choice policies that Garcia describes and assesses. He reviews overall trends from the studies on the effects of school choice, and he then takes into account how school choice laws are expected to change. He points out that Betsy DeVos, the secretary of education for the Trump administration, is a supporter of school choice and that the budget allocations represent a deliberate break from long-standing government policies that give additional financing for low-income schools. Instead, new regulations encourage low-income families to completely forego attending public schools. This book will be a crucial tool for taking part in the discussions that will undoubtedly come after.