These issues of professionalism and innovation seem to be a major problem in many public schools in America. In recent years these issues have come to light as teachers have been disciplined and even fired for their interactions with students that have been unprofessional and even criminal at times. Teachers have an ethical responsibility to act professionally and when they fell to do so the ability of students to excel academically is also compromised.
The aforementioned authors also mention the lack of innovation that often occurs as a result of using democratic methods. One of the reasons why school choice is even an issue is because the curriculums that have been implemented in public schools lack variety. Part of the reason for this lack of innovation has to do with bureaucracy and government mandates such as the No Child Left Behind Act. This particular act stifles innovation because many teachers feel compelled to teach to the test instead of teaching in a way that will allow students to remember and use what they have learned for a lifetime. In addition, teachers are afraid that if their students do not do well on these assessment tests, the school will be labeled as underperforming. In many cities students at schools that underperform are able to transfer to other schools in the district. This is where school choice can create a real problem for teachers who feel pressured to make sure their students do well even if it means not being innovative in their teaching methods.
Overall the research indicates that school choice can create real ethical dilemmas as it pertains to issues such as re-segregation, teacher professionalism and innovation and using democratic methods in the context of public schools and school choice. All of these ethical issues must be considered when determining whether or not school choice should be a policy adopted by a government.
The research seems to indicate that schools in many American cities are failing to properly educate students. From the perspective of the teaching profession it does appear that school choice may serve to purpose of weeding out teachers who are not qualified to hold the positions that they hold. School choice would likely create an environment in which only the most skilled teachers will be able to remain in the public school system. This would serve the purpose of increasing the number of schools that are operating efficiently. On the other hand, the research also indicates that school choice does nothing more than re-segregate school systems and isolate minority students. It is also argued that many parents will not have the capacity to make the appropriate decisions concerning what schools would be of most benefit for their students.
In my opinion school choice should be an option for parents and their students. Although there are pros and cons associated with school choice, it seems that the pros outweigh the cons. More specifically its seems to be unproductive to have children in a failing school when a school in the same district is better and students are thriving. In addition, American children are already falling behind students form other industrial nations. As such American students cannot afford to be in failing schools while educators are trying to revamp the public school system. Children in failing schools will be lost for the rest of their lives if school choice is not an option.
To resolve this issue of school choice, states throughout the country should embrace policies which will allow parents to place their children in another school within the same district if their local school is underperforming. Some districts already have such policies. However, school choice policies should be adopted throughout the country to guarantee that all students have access to the best public education available. In addition, underperforming school will only be given two full academic years to improve and if they do not improve they will be closed. Underperforming schools will be guided through a process by other teachers at high performing schools. This partnership will assist teachers, faculty and students in improving the academic progress of students. Teachers that are successful will serve as mentors to teachers at underperforming schools. A great deal of this mentorship will take place during the summer months so that the partnership does not overwhelm teachers during the school year. Teachers must learn to work together so that children benefit from efficient instruction in the classroom. This method gives options to parents while also seeking to reform schools that are not performing well.
Cullen, J.B. Brian A. Jacob and Steven D. Levitt (2005) The impact of school choice on student outcomes: an analysis of the Chicago Public Schools. Journal of Public Economics. 89 (5-6):729-760
Hastings, Justine S. Thomas J. Kane Douglas Staiger (2005) Parental Preferences and School Competition: Evidence from a Public School Choice Program .Yale Economic Applications and Policy Discussion Paper No. 10
Moe, Terry. 2001. Schools, Vouchers and the American Public. Washington: Brookings Institution Press
Sikkink, D., Emerson M.O. (2008) School choice and racial segregation in U.S. schools: The role of parents' education. Ethnic and Racial Studies 31(2): 267-293