by Georgia Charter Schools Association
By Scarlet Hawk,
Back in September, James C. Courtovich of the Wall Street Journal wrote of the commonalities of school choice and Uber. The next day, Veronique de Rugy of the National Review explained the analogy further with what her colleague Adam Thierer referred to as “permissionless innovation.” de Rugy points out that the act of innovation is to go against the grain of the status quo and therefore will always be something that will not be granted permission from the prevailing system.
Like Uber, school choice has optimized self-determination. No longer are students (or passengers) forced to take only one path, but they are given the ability of autonomy. Like the market for rides, there is competitiveness among schools and implicitly a constant reinvention, should the method of instruction not fit their students’ needs. This means of self-determination speaks to me of a new-wave Industrial Age that like its predecessor is market driven, and bold.
Disruptive technology has always been seen as avant-garde and often has been perceived as meant for risk-loving entrepreneurs only. Nevertheless, I think it is more that the market side of things offers no real alibi to failing schools—either you educate kids successfully, or you do not. If a charter school does not offer value to a student, the family may choose another school. The supply and demand of this educational market intrigues me and seems to be improving the educational marketplace as a whole. However, certainly one could not expect it to be welcomed by all.
The “permissionless” portion of the innovation is probably what draws me most into both the Uber and the school choice markets—why should one EVER have to request permission to get the best? Whether that value is a short ride home or the educational path that leads to young adulthood, should anyone have to ask for permission? Our foremothers and fathers of the Industrial Age would assert a resounding “no.”
Why should parents in this age of constant innovation not welcome more options for their children? Like Uber riders, school choice advocates set the tone, price, and course of their education. Again, like Uber, if they find their choice to be ill fitting, they can review the school and opt for another. Ultimately in both cases, the individual, not the provider, is in the proverbial driver’s seat. For any attentive parent this should be a dream come true. Now the question in both the Uber model and school choice model becomes not “Who is going to take me?” but, “Who is going to stop me?”
“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”~Ayn Rand
Scarlet Hawk is political and government affairs consultant for state and local issues in Georgia. Originally from Social Circle, GA, she now lives and works in Atlanta.
The views and opinions expressed on CharterConfidential are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency.