Anything for the System

There’s a phrase that’s often used as a conversation-stopper in public policy debates. Those who use this phrase seemingly seek to intimidate their opponents into defending evil against good. It seems to be used when all rational arguments fail. The phrase? “Anything for the children.”

When it comes to education, the phrase usually means, “Anything for the system.” While the rhetoric may be about helping students get a better education, many policy makers – and even many business leaders – simply want to put more money into the current system, with maybe a few tweaks here and there.

They defend the system against children by opposing competition that could improve the quality of education being offered to “the children.” Even when competition within the public school realm is proposed, such as charter schools, they say charter schools will harm the system, because parents would be allowed to choose a school other than the failing school to which the system has assigned them.

So the next time you hear “anything for the children,” ask them if that includes giving “the children” a chance to go to a school that best meets their academic needs.

To learn more, go to mspolicy.org.