Our public school system is set up to serve the public. All the public. It is not set up to serve just parents or just students. We all depend on a society in which people are reasonably well-educated. But a "choice" system says, "No, you only get a say in how education works if you have a kid."
Toward the end of the campaign, in a series of targeted, lightly publicized meetings, Cuomo's top legislative priority emerged. It is rewarding campaign donors and block voting by religious communities with a back-door school vouchers plan for private and religious schools.
As a religious Jew deeply invested in Jewish education, it is obvious that I should have an inherent interest to advocate for government funding for religious education, but I feel that it corrodes other deeply cherished values of justice.
Besides the fact that vouchers drain the public education system of funds and deprive both students and teachers of vital civil rights protections, most of the tax dollars involved goes to private religious schools.
Education researchers like me have been hoping policymakers will understand that poverty is the biggest impediment to children's academic success. Yet I worry that the President will slip from an accurate diagnosis to unproven and ineffectual treatments.
The connective tissue of our nation is under assault. Rather than inviting our children into public spaces to learn, we are setting up mechanisms for families to isolate their children in settings that share only their particular view of society.
If we don't fix education -- politicians and pundits proclaim -- we are in for big trouble. News flash: We're already in big trouble. We don't have an education problem in America. We have a social disease.
Fear of litigation is always a major concern when a state considers whether to pass a choice program, though typically the fear is that the lawsuit will come from within the state, not the federal government.
While I've traveled abroad before, I have never spent so much time in one place. After two months, one gets a sense of a country's people, culture, and politics and you learn some surprising things about your own.