Two children studying together


Michael Q. McShane

According to the leadership of the American Federation of Teachers, the opinion page of the New York Times, and the Center for American Progress, contemporary support of school choice is a smokescreen for racism. 

This must come as a surprise for readers of this blog, many of whom support school choice because it gives greater opportunity for minority families trapped in schools that are failing to meet their children’s needs. Sorry to break it to you! It turns out (or so we are told) that because some racists used school vouchers 60 years ago to try and thwart integration and some unsavory characters spoke ill of public schooling more than a century ago, school choice is forever tainted.

This is a terrible argument.

It is a terrible argument on the facts, which are either contradict the critics’ claims or are grossly oversimplified. (Not convinced yet? Even more detailed evidence here.)

It is a terrible argument because examples of racists twisting policies and ideas to suit their own purposes are everywhere: from the minimum wage, to federal support for housing, to labor unions, and even to traditional public schools themselves. Pointing out these examples is not a good way to argue about contemporary problems.

But more than anything it is a terrible argument because so many minority families want school choice and benefit from it.

The old lawyerly saw advises “When the facts are on your side, pound the facts. When the law is on your side, pound the law. And when neither are on your side, pound the table.” School choice opponents are doing some serious table pounding right now. Don’t fall for it.

About the Author

Michael McShane

Mike McShane is the Director of Education Policy for the Show-Me Institute. He is a former high school teacher and earned his PhD in Education Policy at the University of Arkansas. Before coming to the Show-Me Institute, Mike worked at the American Enterprise Institute as a research fellow.