If there is anything positive to come out of this pandemic that we’re enduring, I have hope that it might be a major overhaul of public education delivery in the U. S. Remember that when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans the entire public school system was destroyed. As a result the opportunity to redesign a new delivery system from the ground up was presented. The outcome was that a system of charter schools replaced the system of so-called traditional public schools in a textbook case of a kind of Schumpeter’s “creative destruction”. Is it possible that this phenomenon could be applicable more broadly around the country as a result of the pandemic? It seems so. Among other enabling factors are the current nationwide debate on school reopening, the trial run of online and hybrid delivery experiments, debates on the efficacy of home-schooling, and an encouraging Supreme Court decision in Espinosa v. Montana Department of Revenue which provides a big boost to the school choice movement, particularly vouchers for private schools.
Of course, the usual suspects in opposition to any and all versions of the expansion of school choice are still in place and as politically strong as ever. But something tells me that what underserved students and parents have had to deal with in this pandemic will energize them when this has passed into demanding a more productive delivery system and that they have grown weary of the egregious self-interest of the teachers’ unions in blocking reform, nowhere in more evidence than in the current fight over school reopening. I’m looking forward to this long overdue nationwide debate.