Yesterday, I wondered aloud why Bill Gates keeps banging his bucks and head into the public-schooling brick wall rather than backing reforms that go around it. I noted that no matter what he does—as his efforts to date have borne out—he will never be able to turn the immovable teachers unions, administrators, and politicians.
Mr. Gates might be starting to see what I’ve been writing about. As reported in Education Week’s Campaign K-12 blog, at the event in which Gates unveiled his plans to create and promote national standards (obviously, he hasn’t completely learned his lesson), Gates admitted that his reforms haven’t worked because they wouldn’t help influential people, and that his very establishment Strong American Schools effort (which also went by the moniker “ED in 08”) just did what tweak-the-beast reforms always do: cause people to “mouth platitudes,” and little more.
At the risk of repeating myself, there is a better way: Universal school choice—like, say, universal tax credits—will get a lot more people on board than a small school here, or a new test there, because it would offer tangible benefits to everyone. That’s how you get broad-based support. And as far as getting past platitudes, the only way to do that is to get around the system in which nice rhetoric, not education, is what’s most important. Again, I give you school choice.