National School Choice Week begins Sunday after the school choice movement’s most successful year ever and with the promise of more momentum going forward. But not everyone is celebrating.

A highly organized, well-financed coalition of two dozen national and local left-wing advocacy organizations, teachers unions, and associations of government bureaucrats have teamed up to fight back against parents who seek greater educational opportunities for their children.

In this coalition’s view, families should have the choice of any school they want, so long as it’s run by the government.

The left-wing coalition—under the anodyne-sounding name Partnership for the Future of Learning—is set to launch a disinformation campaign against school choice Monday, according to documents obtained by The Daily Signal.

The campaign includes a glossy website, talking points, shareable graphics, and ready-made messages tailored for different audiences and social media platforms.

Predictably, the Partnership for the Future of Learning is pushing tired, one-sided, and debunked propaganda meant to scare families into believing that school choice policies are destructive, unaccountable, and (of course) racist.

Instead of trusting themselves, the coalition argues, parents should trust “the experts”—the same “experts” who kept schools closed unnecessarily, causing massive learning loss; imposed draconian-yet-ineffective mask mandates; and put boys in the girls’ locker rooms and porn in the school libraries.

These “experts” also divide everyone into “oppressors” and “the oppressed” based on immutable characteristics; segregate students by race: think “individualism” and “objectivity” are white supremacy; teach that there is an infinite number of genders; keep secrets from parents about their children’s mental and emotional health; and can’t tell what a woman is.

The Left has hegemonic control over the government-run district school system. School choice is a threat to the Left’s hegemony because it shifts the locus of control over education from bureaucrats and politicians to parents.

It takes a sustained regimen of indoctrination and social engineering for people to believe some of the Left’s more outlandish orthodoxies, so it can’t afford to allow families to choose schools that teach authentic history and science, let alone traditional morality.

Perhaps that’s why leftists have no compunction about openly lying in their messaging materials. Here are just three of the more egregious examples of disinformation about school choice from the Partnership for the Future of Learning.

1. Disinformation: School choice policies are “spreading despite overwhelming evidence that they are harmful public policy” and “do not have accountability measures that would ensure all students receive an effective and inclusive education.”

Reality: The evidence on school choice is, indeed, overwhelming—overwhelmingly positive.

The coalition’s materials lemon-pick the few studies finding negative effects on student performance from private school choice programs. But the materials ignore the much larger number of studies that find positive effects on student performance as well as numerous other measures, including educational attainment, parent satisfaction, district school performance, civic values and practices, racial and ethnic integration, fiscal effects, and school safety.

The education reform organization EdChoice has compiled every high-quality study on the effects of school choice and found that 84% of the studies find statistically significant positive effects, while only 6% find any negative effects.

Source: EdChoice, The 123s of School Choice: 2023 Edition

Government-run schools are buried under mountains of regulations that have failed to produce “effective and inclusive” education. The best form of accountability is making education providers directly accountable to parents.

2. Disinformation: “Private school vouchers are historically rooted in segregation, discrimination, and racism. … School vouchers were first introduced during the civil rights era when efforts to desegregate schools were at a peak.”

Reality: School choice, which has its roots in 18th-century liberalism, was used as a tool to foster racial integration during the civil rights movement. It provides disadvantaged minorities with greater education opportunities today.

Although public schools remain highly racially stratified, research shows that school choice policies foster racial integration. It is the opponents of school choice who are standing in the schoolhouse door.

Contrary to the Left’s origin story worthy of a cartoon villain, school choice wasn’t born out of opposition to desegregation efforts. The history of school choice goes back at least as far as 1791, when Founding Father Thomas Paine proposed a voucher-style system of education financing in his book “Rights of Man.” In 1859, John Stuart Mill likewise proposed a proto-voucher system in his essay “On Liberty.”

The Partnership for the Future of Learning points to some segregationists who wanted to open private, segregated academies funded via vouchers. But the coalition conveniently ignores the fact that integrationists already were using private schools to foster racial integration while government’s district school system was segregated.

Moreover, many segregationists, like those running the Virginia Education Association teachers union, opposed voucher plans because they feared that school choice  would lead to racially integrated schools. They already had found ways to skirt the Supreme Court’s 1954 ruling against racially segregated schools in Brown v. Board of Education by redrawing district boundaries along racial lines.

That said, what really matters is not why people supported or opposed a given policy decades ago—do liberals support eliminating the minimum wage because it was a tool to keep minorities out of the labor pool in the early 20th century?—but what the effects of that policy are today.

As noted above, eight studies have examined the effect of private school choice policies on racial integration. Seven found positive effects and one found no statistically significant difference.

This shouldn’t be surprising because America’s residentially assigned district school system is still highly racially stratified.

3. Disinformation: “Public education is foundational to democracy and democratic institutions and provides all students and families with certain rights and protections that are necessary for effective and inclusive education.”

Reality: School choice is better for democracy than government-run schooling.

The claim by the Partnership for the Future of Learning that government-run schooling is “foundational for democracy” is clearly false, since democracy in America long predates the government school system. Self-government does rely upon an educated citizenry, but as Keri Ingraham and I explained in an October commentary for The Daily Signal, government schools are neither necessary nor sufficient to produce an informed citizenry:

Government schools are clearly not sufficient to produce an informed citizenry because our more than century-long experiment with K-12 public education has produced dismal results. Nearly nine out of 10 adults attended a government-run K-12 school, yet fewer than half of Americans can name the three branches of government—and a quarter can’t name any branch at all. …

On the most recent National Assessment for Education Progress, American students’ history scores hit an all-time low. As the Associated Press reported, ‘40% of eighth grade students are performing below basic proficiency in history, meaning they likely cannot identify simple historical concepts in primary or secondary sources.’ Only 13% scored at or above proficient in history. On the civics exam, students also fared poorly, with only 22% of American eighth grade students scoring at or above the proficient level.

Government-run schooling also isn’t necessary to produce an educated and civic-minded citizenry, since private schools produce superior results, as we wrote:

As Patrick Wolf of the University of Arkansas has documented, the research literature on the effects of school choice policies on civic outcomes show an overwhelming advantage for school-choice policies over government-schooling. These findings include studies of the effects of different types of schooling on political tolerance, political participation, civic knowledge and skills, and voluntarism and social capital.

Of the 93 findings regarding the effects on civic outcomes, 60% show a statistically significant advantage for school choice, while only 3% find an advantage for government-run schooling. About 37% of the findings show no discernable difference.

The Partnership for the Future of Learning is formidable because of the coalition’s size, organization, and funding.

Only two things stand in the leftists’ way: American families and the truth.

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