Want evolution taught, but your district is dominated by creationists? Too bad. Mexican‐American, and you want a course on your history? You’re out of luck in many districts. Religious, and you believe faith is essential to your child’s education? You are absolutely unequal; teaching religion is impermissible in any public school, but religious people must still pay for them. Of course, for over a century many public schools were de facto Protestant institutions, rendering Jews, Catholics, atheists and others second‐class citizens.
The sad product of this winner‐take‐all system is not just inequality, but often painful social conflict, as neighbors are forced to battle neighbors to get what they want from the schools. The Cato Institute’s Public Schooling Battle Map contains nearly 1,500 values and identity‐based conflicts in districts around the country, and probably just captures a fraction — those that make headlines—of such battles. What keeps such conflagrations from being even more common? Either one side wins, perpetuating discrimination, or all sides agree to lowest‐common‐denominator — but inoffensive — content, such as biology courses free of human origins, or reading lists bereft of intellectually challenging literature.
By allowing people to choose schools, private schooling steps on the fuse of social conflict, empowering all people to access coherent, rigorous content consistent with their values and desires, and no longer pricing access at the cost of a house. It allows educators to establish schools as they see fit, not according to hand‐tying rules dictated by districts, states, or Washington. And it enables teachers to specialize in the needs of unique children, and innovate with new pedagogical approaches and ideas.
America is about liberty, equality under the law and dynamism. When it comes to education, only private schooling is, too.