Texas school administrator pushes pitiful argument against school choice

March 1, 2023

By Tim Worstall

The latest argument against school choice in Texas appears to be that the choice will be limited. Limited by whether a school will actually take a child in, given the choice that the parents make.

This, to us at least, appears to be something of a Hail Mary pass, but that is the argument.

Temple ISD Superintendent Bobby Ott said,  “I think a lot of parents are walking around believing a false narrative that they truly do have a choice, the choice resides in the selective admissions process of the private school.”

We have to admit we’re OK with that idea. If we have school choice then some schools will choose to be more academic – think Boston Latin, or the NYC schools for the gifted – and others will be perhaps more vocational, or performing arts (again NYC and the movie Flashdance) and so on. We see no problem with that at all.

That school choice involves a mix and match of parents’ desires for their children and the schools’ ability to support and supply those desires sounds to us just like everything else that happens in a free world. We can go to Whole Foods and demand 2×4 lumber all we want but they’re not going to supply it. Lowe’s might be a better idea for that and Lowe’s ain’t so good at organic arugula.

This is how a marketplace works, exactly by matching, as best can be done, the desires against the ability to supply. That does indeed mean people supplying different things in order to match up with those different things desired. Further, not everyone can have exactly what they want because this is a cruel universe. But this is the best system humans have ever devised or found so that everyone gains the closest they can have to what they want. Choice – we get to trade off the little bits of what we wouldn’t like to have against the bigger things we would.

This also answers this claim:

“If we’re competing with entities and using tax dollars, to subsidize entities that can pick and choose, well, then eventually you’re going to set up a mass societal divide. If we divide our children that way, then we will divide our future.”

The pity here is that someone hired to be superintendent isn’t actually understanding how schooling is supposed to work in the first place. He’s not even noting what happens in the schools he does run. Sure, some schools will suggest that this particular child will do better elsewhere. This is inherent in the very idea of choice because different schools will emphasize different things.

Which is exactly what already happens in current schools. Math nerds do occasionally try out for high school football teams and there’s often a certain amount of not letting them in. The choice isn’t solely with the parents or student that is. Equally, some nose guards don’t make it into AP Math classes.

All this proves is that Ott also believes in selectivity but possibly only selectivity that he’s in charge of.


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