Rationing Schooling Freedom in Collectivist Oakland

You can’t have too much of a good thing—unless you mean freedom and you live in Oakland, apparently.

Oakland Unified School District school board member Jody London says enough’s enough when it comes to parents looking out for their own kids’ education. What does she mean?

Oakland has the highest concentration of charter schools of any city in California, according to the San Francisco Chronicle: “This year, more than a quarter of the city’s 49,000 students are attending one of its nearly 40 alternative public schools, far more per capita than anywhere else in the state.” That means fewer students—and dollars—for Oakland USD.

There oughta be a law. Well, technically in California, there is.

The number of charter schools is capped at 1,650 statewide, but that cap is increased by 100 schools annually. While there’s no limit at the local level, an estimated 50,000 students statewide are on charter school waiting lists.

That suits London just fine because as far as she’s concerned, children are community property, as the Chronicle continues:

With five more charter applications in front of the school board this fall, London said she has had enough. Supporters of charter schools are “looking out for their families, for their kids,” she said. But that support doesn’t necessarily extend to the neighbors’ children, perhaps a child with severe disabilities or one most at risk of failing.” At some point, we have a collective responsibility in this society, in this community to look out for each other,” she added. Last month, she vowed to vote against any new charters.

It’s illegal for school board members to vote down prospective charter schools because they might negatively affect districts’ budgets. But London insists she’s not against charter schools, just “too many” charter schools.

For her, determining how many is too many is a matter of local control. London’s right.

And it doesn’t get more local than parents who have the right and the responsibility to educate their children as and where they think is best. The last thing elected officials should be doing is rationing schooling options—especially ones who’ve claimed collective “responsibility” over other people’s children and failed.

Vicki E. Alger is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and Senior Fellow and Director of the Women for School Choice Project at the Independent Women’s Forum. She is the author of the Independent book, Failure: The Federal Misedukation of America’s Children.
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