Stop Saying Markets Will Solve School Problems
School Choice Weekly #153
Greg Forster is back with the latest in his series
Yes. This is why so many people are dissatisfied with the public education menu. If you had to come up with something for dinner that pleased 50 million kids and their families, you’d probably go with something easy and bland. Like pizza. Forster writes of the consequences of avoiding key questions like this for schooling:
The logic of technocracy is simple: Let’s forget about the things that we strongly disagree about, and focus on the things that everyone ought to be able to reach agreement about pretty easily. As a result, technocracy effectively narrows down the agenda for the head to reading and math scores, keeps the agenda for the hands hopelessly vague (‘critical thinking’) and keeps silent about the heart.
Another effect of technocratic rule of schools: hiding the real values and aims of the system. You cannot take values out of any endeavor. But you can try to hide them. People experience this as small yet myriad forms of manipulation and coercion.
All accountability systems impose a vision of the good. That’s what the word ‘accountability’ means. And, as education politics has shown in recent years, technocracy’s vision of the good is in fact a deeply controversial and divisive one.
Whatever its intentions or motives, technocracy in practice imposes a vision of the good for education that includes everything that is widely agreed to be good, and effectively excludes--treats as not essential to good education--everything that is subject to serious disagreement.
This, Forster notes, has the effect of narrowing and “pabluming” the curriculum and subjecting teachers, students, parents, and administrators to myriad numbing and idiotic rules. He provides a lot more to think over, so I’ll leave you with another tantalizing quote:
Choice and decentralization will be absolutely indispensable components of any such system. But we will not get them by talking about markets and competition. We will get them by talking about why a free community, open to pluralism but demanding respect for rights under the rule of law, is the best kind of community for human beings.
IN THIS ISSUE:
- NEVADA: The state supreme court has upheld the constitutionality of the state’s new education savings account program but said it must have a different funding source. If lawmakers perform that switch Nevada will be home to the nation’s broadest school choice program. Matthew Ladner and Jason Bedrick pick apart the court’s decision. An in-state columnist explains the tricky politics surrounding the legislature’s choice to kill or revive the stalled program.
- TEXAS: State Sen. Larry Taylor talks about the possibilities for his state legislature finally passing a school choice law this session.
- CHARTERS: Black parents of charter school students have started a campaign to show their support for those schools even as the NAACP considers calling for a ban on opening more.
- PRESCHOOL: The federal Head Start preschool program has released new curricular requirements for local preschools it funds across the country. Those requirements include teaching gender fluidity and monitoring kids’ emotions.
- COLLEGE: Common Core has led to suggestions the federal government should start directly granting college degrees rather than deciding what qualifies a student to earn one through higher education institutions.
- MILLENNIALS: One of the world’s pre-eminent cognitive scientists talks about why, even though millennials have history’s highest IQs, their ability to think has disintegrated.
- COLLEGE ENTRANCE EXAMS: The Classic Learning Test, an alternative to the SAT and ACT, continues to pick up colleges willing to accept its scores as legitimate.
- LOUISIANA: The interest in education politics that Common Core brought to the state is permeating Louisiana’s review of its policies in response to the federal Every Student Succeeds Act.
- TRANSGENDER TREATMENT: A federal judge rejected a lawsuit against President Barack Obama’s transgender policy requiring schools to let students use the bathroom, locker room, and sleeping facilities they choose, regardless of biological sex. He also ordered the school to require teachers and students to use the pronouns transgender students want. The district is appealing.
- SPECIAL EDUCATION: Parents of an autistic child are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to decide what kinds of special education policies the nation should have, arguing that local districts interpret federal law unevenly.
- SCHOOL DISCIPLINE: Even though the federal government is pushing schools to give unruly students counseling and keep them in school instead of suspending them, a new review finds we have little research to support this approach.
- ILLINOIS: In its ongoing showdown with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and Chicago Democrat Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago Teachers Union has set a strike date for October 11 if things don’t go their way.
- FED ED: Here’s what’s changing for education inside the latest continuing resolution that has for Obama’s entire presidency substituted for Congress passing actual budgets.
- COLORADO: How a new state data privacy law interacts with testing mandates to reduce publicly available information about individual students’ results.
- CLASS SIZES: It turns out that reducing class sizes is not the most effective way to improve academic achievement.
Thank you for reading! If you need a quicker fix of news about school choice, you can find daily updates online at https://www.heartland.org/topics/education.