Acton Institute Powerblog

The School Zone to Serfdom

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The Washington Post recently reported on what looked like an interesting development in education reform going on in California:

The national battle over the best way to fix failing schools is ripping through this desert town like a sandstorm, tearing apart a community that is testing a radical new approach: the parent takeover.

Parents here are trying to become the first in the country to use a trigger law, which allows a majority of families at a struggling school to force major changes, from firing the principal to closing the school and reopening it as an independent charter. All they need to do to wrest control is sign a petition.

Reading this made me cheer . . . until economist Arnold Kling brought me back to reality:

This story struck me as demonstrating the level of serfdom to which we have sunk.

1. Note that the default is that parents do not control their school. They have to petition to take control away from the state.

2. When school districts were smaller and teachers’ unions had less political muscle, local schools really did belong to the parents. This is not such a radical concept.

3. Note that this is a California law. The rest of us do not even have this tool available.

Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).

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