"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Saturday, August 6, 2011

School Choice - The Final Solution?

Dick Army was interviewed by Reason TV at the recent FreedomFest in Las Vegas about education reform. He provided a standard list of reforms that have not worked and placed all his chips on school choice.

Maybe Dick is on to something, but not in the way you think. Army's one pronged approach is not the final answer. Education reform is going to need to be a multi-pronged approach. How much weight is put on each factor in the education equation is where the great debate comes in.

But, what if we went with Army's suggestion and opened school choice to everyone? The free market competition principles he is counting on would eventually point to the solution. Eventually we would see a trend towards families focusing on getting their kids in to certain schools. We could then analyze what reform programs are being used in those schools, what the demographic make-up of the student and teacher populations is, and what the curriculum is. The market would not only determine what the desired purpose of public education is, but also what the best way is to deliver that product.

Granted this is not the quick fix that everyone is looking for. Alas, that is one of the weaknesses of the American culture. We want fast solutions. We have an obesity problem that has arisen within the last 5-10 years, depending on who's data you look at, (Boston Drs. finding underweight children ) but we want a fix in the next two. We have been increasing our spending and debt for decades, but think we can fix that in a couple weeks. Patience is a virtue we still pursue but do not possess. For those who say we can't afford to lose a generation, consider the Chinese, or Progressive, timeline which considers change over a century or two acceptable.

The biggest threat to public education right now is a rush to judgment.

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