Friday, April 7, 2017


You order your steak dinner, and soon it arrives-- but when you cut into the steak, you discover that rather than medium rare, it is well done without a trace of pink or moisture.

"Chris," you say, because your waitperson's name is Chris, "I'd like to send this back and get a steak done the way I ordered. After all, that's what I paid for."

Chris replies, "No, we don't fix meals around here. We've already spent your money on... other things. But we can offer you some choices instead."

"Choices? I don't want choices. I want what I ordered."

Chris barrels on. "Look. Here's a nice all-twinkie option. Here's a lovely plate of pork cubes. Here's some cucumber soup."

"But I want a nice medium rare steak."

"We don't want to spend our money on fixing your order. We want to offer you choice, instead."


That's been the formula over and over again. We want health care that serves all citizens and does so without ruining anyone financially. But the Paul Ryan has told us that he would rather give us choice instead. Instead of the health care we want, we could choose from among several options that we don't want. Instead of the health care we want, we could even choose to go without, which would be better because it would be our choice. Right. Choosing to go without health care instead of having health care would be better, because it would be a choice (in the same way that African-Americans chose to attend HBCUs). Because, frankly, the folks at the top of the pyramid do not want to have to spend a bunch of money to provide health care for Those People. Let them have a choice, instead.

And that's the current administration's idea for education.To people who aren't getting what they want, who aren't getting the public school that they want, who aren't getting equitable support for education in their community, who aren't getting the funding and resources and responsiveness that they want-- well, the reformsters-in-charge don't intend to give these students and families what they want. The reformsters-in-charge are not going to spend the money or time or will or commitment to fix those schools, to turn them into the schools they should be. No, they're going to offer something else, instead.


Instead, some students can be admitted to some other schools that may or many not be well-supported, well-funded, well-managed. Students will get a choice, instead, though some of them, like the citizens who "choose" no health insurance at all instead of health insurance that won't meet their needs (because, you know, that's a choice), will choose not to attend schools that won't provide proper support for that student's needs. Some will "choose" not to attend schools where they aren't welcome, and others will "choose" not to attend schools whose application process is unnavigable for their family. Some, of course, will not really get any choice at all, will not be welcomed to any non-public school. But even for them the choice exists.

And that's all that matters. We aren't going to fix your schools, not going to try to get you what you want from them.

Instead, we offer choice. That choice may not result in a quality education. It may not get you what you really want. But at lesat you'll have choice, and that's the important part.

Choice. Not a way to get excellent schools, but a thing to get instead of excellent schools.



  1. You always cut right through the crap to the heart and core of it.

  2. "Choice. Not a way to get excellent schools, but a thing to get instead of excellent schools."

    YES! That's the question we SHOULD be asking? Why are they doubling down on one-size-fits-all instead of opening schools to what they claim is "effective" in "other" schools. Here's another take on the same issue.

  3. I absolutely, absolutely love your analogy. I couldn't believe my eyes and ears when I first encountered the tax credit situation (when we moved to Arizona in 2007 and now it's a nation-wide epidemic). I hate it. It should be illegal or at least unconstitutional but to fight fire with fire, we donate ours to the public schools in our area to support the arts (slashed by budget cuts and diverted money for expensive testing we no one needs or benefits from). By the way, I almost hesitate to comment here as I know you're an English Teacher Extroidinare, but you'll get the gist. Your posts totally rock and I never miss one!