Wake Forest Law Review hosts expert to discuss the privatization of public education

The inherent tension that exists between individual liberty and the common good has played out in myriad ways for America’s schoolchildren. It’s been the fault line for everything from school finance decisions to desegregation disputes, and it’s at the core of the debate over charter schools and voucher programs.

“We consider schools to be one of the key engines of social mobility,” said University of Richmond law professor Kimberly Robinson. “We rely on (them) to enable students from all backgrounds and socioeconomic classes to pursue the American Dream.”

Americans, she said, profess a strong commitment to equal educational opportunity, “but we don’t in reality provide that. It is very clear there are haves and have-nots in the education system today. There are sharp divides in financing and the quality of education given to children.

“Particularly minority and low-income children,” she said, “often get the short end of the stick.”

These divides, she said, have contributed to recent trends toward the privatization of public education.

Robinson was one of several panelists who spoke Friday at a symposium called “Privatizing the Public Good: Emerging Trends in K-16 Education.” Sponsored by the Wake Forest Law Review, the daylong event included experts on both sides of the debate.

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