Some of Those Folks Who Claim to Be Progressives Are Lying

“Progressive” is a slippery word.

The very term denotes improvement, progress, and thus is by nature a desirable term with which to self-apply.

But “progress” is in the eye of the beholder.

What might be progressive to one may be regressive to another.

And indeed, what was at one time thought progressive, may in today’s world be embarrassingly regressive (“don’t ask, don’t tell” comes to mind.)

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A PROGRESSIVE TODAY?

One place to look is the platform of the Progressive Democrats of America

Their list of issues include:

  • Healthcare Human Rights 
  • Equal Rights Amendment
  • End Corporate Rule
  • Stop Global Warming
  • Voter Access
  • Economic & Social Justice
  • Ending Wars

There is a general theme here. To be “progressive,” it would seem, is to fight for equitable access. Access to healthcare. Access to equal pay. Access to voting rights. Access to justice. Access to a clean environment. Access to peace and wellness. 

This increase in access is counter measured with environmental protection and dismantling corporate lobbying structures that influence or control Congress.

To me, this progressive platform can be boiled down to a single objective: creating a system in which all people have access to quality education, jobs, health, housing and justice—regardless of race, gender, sexual expression, religion, economic status or zip code.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT ELSE FALLS UNDER THIS PROGRESSIVE PLATFORM? SCHOOL CHOICE.

Do you know what else falls under this progressive platform? School choice.

Consider family A:

Two parents are considering where to send their firstborn child to kindergarten. They are not thrilled with the local neighborhood public school. They are privileged with the financial means to afford private school tuition. They apply for a spot and are offered admission. They choose to enroll their child in the private school.

Consider family B:

Two parents are considering where to send their firstborn child to kindergarten. They are not thrilled with the local neighborhood public school. They would like to enroll their child in a school district in a neighboring town/catchment/county. The real estate costs more, but they are privileged with the financial means to afford the necessary rent/mortgage. They choose to move and enroll their child in their preferred neighborhood public school.

Consider family C:

Two parents are considering where to send their firstborn child to kindergarten. They are not thrilled with the local neighborhood public school. They cannot afford private school tuition. They cannot afford to move to a new town/catchment/county/district. They have no choice but to enroll their child in their local neighborhood public school and hope for the best.

This is not progressivism.

This is inequitable access to quality education based upon one’s financial standing.  

Here’s what progressivism looks like.

Consider family D:

Two parents are considering where to send their firstborn child to kindergarten. They are not thrilled with the local neighborhood public school. They cannot afford private school tuition. They cannot afford to move to a new town/catchment/county/district. They look around for options.

In addition to their local neighborhood public school, there is a parochial school, a charter school and a public magnet school. They consider a voucher for the parochial school. They consider applying to the public charter school lottery. They consider applying for the public magnet school. They decide to apply for all of them. They receive the results, then choose to enroll their child in the school that is best for their family.

This is progressivism.  

Family A can still choose to pay private school tuition. Family B can still choose to move. But no longer is Family C left without an option because they cannot afford one.  

This, to me, is the heart of school choice.

It’s not about bashing teachers or teachers unions. It’s not about privatizing education. It’s not about pushing religious education. It’s not about segregation.

SCHOOL CHOICE IS ABOUT ENSURING ALL FAMILIES HAVE ACCESS TO QUALITY EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR THEIR CHILDREN

School choice is about ensuring all families have access to quality educational opportunities for their children—regardless of race, gender, sexual expression, religion, socioeconomic status or zip code.

What could be more progressive than that?

What do you think?

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Zachary Wright

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