Monday, July 09, 2012

Hope and Change: Education

“Democrats aren’t just the party of government; they are the party of inefficient, expensive, unresponsive, bureaucratic government. They are the party of government workers first and foremost, and if there is a clash between the interests of the providers of government services and their consumers (between, for example, unqualified, unmotivated life-tenured public school teachers and kids), [they] protect[] workers first, others second. . . they are the party of the bitter clingers.”

--Walter Russell Mead, American Interest

Andrew J. Rotherham is an educational specialist and former Clinton White House domestic policy advisor who regularly blogs at “” After putting down a recent New York Times article on “No Child Left Behind” waivers that maintained the program “has been derided for what some regard as an obsessive focus on test results, which has led to some notorious cheating scandals”—a line Rotherham asserts is no more factual than “everybody knows” (cheating hardly began with the program, he points out), Rotherham gets down to basics:
When have we ever had a widespread increase in accountability in education without it being a three-ring circus, policymakers walking back from the brink, and a general bemoaning of things? . . .the real problem here is that our political system really doesn’t have the tensile strength [the balls?] to sustain a push for accountability over time. . .
None of the people cheering or jeering [the New York Times] article would put up for a moment with having their own kids in schools that couldn’t generally meet the proficiency bars states have established. . . This is about other people’s children and what’s good enough for them. And that [is] the root of the problem.
Educating “other people’s children.” It’s a problem David Brooks at the New York Times touched on in his recent complaint that schools are not educating boys. Brooks writes:
Schools have to engage people as they are. That requires leaders who insist on more cultural diversity in school: not just teachers who celebrate cooperation, but other teachers who celebrate competition; not just teachers who honor environmental virtues, but teachers who honor military virtues; not just curriculums that teach how to share, but curriculums that teach how to win and how to lose; not just programs that work like friendship circles, but programs that work like boot camp.
The basic problem is that schools praise diversity but have become culturally homogeneous. The education world has become a distinct subculture, with a distinct ethos and attracting a distinct sort of employee. Students who don’t fit the ethos get left out.
Today’s public schools—though Brooks won’t come out and just say it—by women for females.

Education should not be run for “other people’s children.” The students and their parents should be in control, especially including boys and their parents. How? Families should have a choice of where to send their children to school, with money following the student. Competition will take care of the rest.

Hope and Change in education comes from school choice.

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