The Fordham Institute released today a (“groundbreaking”) study titled “What Parents Want,” which finds that:
nearly all parents seek schools with a solid core curriculum in reading and math; an emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education; and the development in students of good study habits, strong critical thinking skills, and excellent verbal and written communication skills. But some parents also prefer specializations and emphases that are only possible in a system of school choice.
That summary could just as easily describe chapter 1 of my 1999 book Market Education, which reviewed 20 years of public opinion research on people’s educational goals and came to the same conclusion. So far so good.
Upon (re-)discovering that parents already share a “solid core” of educational expectations, do Fordham’s Michael Petrilli and Checker Finn reluctantly abandon their erstwhile attachment to the government-backed standards and testing known as “Common Core”? After all, in a free marketplace with lots of overlap in consumer demands, there will be substantial overlap in what providers deliver—all voluntarily; no need for government nudging. [I am shocked, shocked, to discover that Apple puts a web browser on its iPhone, similar to the one on my Android phone!?! Even without a government mandate!]
Strangely, but not unexpectedly, that is not what Petrilli and Finn elect to do. On the contrary, they conclude that the freely-occurring commonality among parents’ demands “bodes well for policy initiatives such as the Common Core State Standards, which are designed to deliver much of that.”
Translation: families would pursue—and educators would thus provide—a common core of studies voluntarily, therefore, governments should compel educators to adhere to a particular set of standards cooked up by a group of bureaucrats and arm-twisted into place by the federal government. Because, really, when has anything pursued voluntarily not been improved by the addition of government compulsion?