Lessons from Kenyan Education
Critics of parental choice in education sometimes claim that poor people will be taken advantage of in a market system. In particular, I have heard this in St. Louis regarding proposed charter schools. Choice opponents fear that poor parents won’t be able to tell a good school from a bad one, and that they could be taken in by unscrupulous charters looking for state money.
This article by James Tooley shows how baseless those worries are. Very poor parents in Kenya are able to evaluate the quality of various schools, and to act on their observations. Tooley quotes several parents, who explain their reasons for preferring private schools to government-run schools:
We asked parents to elaborate on what particular features made the private schools preferable. One mother told us: “People thought education is free; it may be free but children do not learn. This makes the quality of education poor and that is why many parents have brought their children back here.”
[…] Parents, it turned out, actively compared children in the government schools with children in the private schools in their neighborhoods.
[…] Finally, parents were learning from the experience of those who had moved between the two systems.
As you can see, parents are able to exercise choice in Kenya; I think St. Louisians are capable of doing the same.