Do you remember back in the old days when the privatization movement began that choice was going to “save poor children from failing schools”?

Well, that slogan is now obsolete. Now the advocates say that the purpose of choice is choice, regardless of results.

That subtle shift has happened because of the many recent studies and evaluations showing that charters and vouchers do not necessarily get better results, and that they may even have a negative effect, as we learned from recent evaluations of voucher programs in D.C., Louisiana, Indiana, and Ohio.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos sounded the bugle call for retreat after learning of the poor results of the latest evaluation of the D.C. voucher program, funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

In the past, she had said that choice would “save poor kids from failing schools.” Now, however, she says, “When school choice policies are fully implemented, there should not be differences in achievement among the various types of schools.” Parents are satisfied, and that is good enough for her, even if the children’s test scores are falling. If you parse this sentence, what she is saying is that when everyone chooses, none of the schools will be better than any others. They will all get the same results, even if they are dismal. The purpose of choice is choice.

Results don’t matter. Only parent satisfaction matters. If poor kids are moved from a “failing public school” to a “failing charter school” or “failing religious school,” that’s fine. An opinion piece in a D.C. paper suggested that we should not pay attention to those studies, because critics of school choice twist their findings anyway, especially if their findings are negative.