In times of crisis, the free market typically takes over to fill needs quickly and efficiently. Now, thanks to Coronavirus, schools in America are in a crisis about how to educate students this fall. Individuals are the best judges of their own self-interests, and none more so than parents of school-age children.
Parents of children not returning to school this fall are banding together and forming Pandemic Pods, explains Francis Menton in the Manhattan Contrarian. Essentially these parents are hiring private tutors for in-person learning for small groups of students.
In the space of only a few months, multiple beautifully crafted websites have sprung up to help connect families with tutors and teachers, organized by location, age group, and learning needs. See examples here and here. The free-market is an amazing thing: it fills needs quickly and efficiently to the benefit of all.
Relocate Funds for People In Need
Low-income families are feeling left out because local governments are refusing to reallocate funds for people deemed to be “in need.”
During this pandemic, public schools have failed to innovate quickly and adjust to changing circumstances; they have offered no alternatives or options to problematic distance learning; they have let their communities down, most significantly minority and low-income families. Let’s place the blame for this mess exactly where it belongs: squarely on the shoulders of unions and the governments that do their bidding.
Low-Income Families Left Out in the Cold
Meanwhile, a low-income mother in Philadelphia, Dieynaba Diaw, can feel the injustice. She believes pods are a nice idea but adds: “that wouldn’t be an option for me. I couldn’t afford it.”
Dieynaba, that’s where you’re wrong! In 2016-2017, the Philadelphia district schools spent a “colossal” $24,597 per student. Assuming Dieynaba has a child in the public school system, her child has already been deemed entitled to $24,597 of education. Suffice to say, the public funds exist. They already exist for people exactly like Dieynaba Diaw, who now feels left behind.
Governments and Unions Withholding Funds
Instead of giving her that money to determine the best use for it, governments and unions are withholding both the funds and the schooling. They are leaving the very people they claim to want to help the most — low-income families — out in the cold.
The Latest Inequality Trope
Mr. Menton predicted last month that that market answers to the problems facing parents would likely be “disparaged as another example of privilege in action.” And sadly, as he writes, “he was right.”
Various media outlets promptly began railing against the Pods as a new marker of inequality and injustice. From the Washington Post: Private ‘School Pods’ are Coming. They’ll Worsen Inequality. From NPR: ‘Pandemic Pods’ Raise Concerns About Equity. From Barrons: Pandemic Pods Will Make the Inequality in American Schools Even Worse. For NPR, Anya Kamenetz says, “here we are in the midst of a national conversation about racial equity and a group of families who have relative privilege are busily constructing solutions for their own kids that leave everyone else behind.” [My emphasis]. Nowhere in NPR’s report is it mentioned that if poor and minority children are getting left behind by school closures, it is the fault of the schools and teachers unions.
Somehow they manage to place the blame solely on parents who are just trying to do what’s best for their own children.