Choice fans promote the idea as one the provides each family with the school of their dreams. Everyone, declares Betsy DeVos, should have a school that provides the right fit.
Well, almost everybody. Two recent stories underline that what families can choose is what the folks in charge of the marketplace decide they can choose.
In Indiana, a lawsuit has emerged from one of several incidents of private Catholic schools firing gay teachers for being gay. In September, the feds entered the lawsuit on the side of the schools. Their argument, which has percolated up in several different contexts, is that discriminating against certain groups falls under the school's First Amendment rights. A religious organization, argues the government, should not have to hire anyone whose beliefs don't match the organization's. So canning any LGBTQ teachers is totally okay, as far as the feds are concerned.
The message to LGBTQ students could not be clearer--"we don't want your kind here."
And if that wasn't clear enough, Alabama has been making it clearer. Back in January, an application from Birmingham AIDS Outreach to open up an LGBTQ charter school was turned down by the Birmingham school board. Alabama has a Public [sic] Charter School Commission that stands ready to overrule local school boards in case the charter is turned down, but the board has now shot down Magic City Acceptance Academy twice--first last May, and again just last week. Last week four of the eight board members abstained, three voted in favor of the school, and one against, which adds up to no.
So school choice is only for some students, and those decisions are not going to be made by elected officials are answerable to the public, nor are choice schools going to be bound by the same rules that operate in the public school world.