April 29, 2008 5:19PM

Maybe a Less Checkered Future?

Yesterday, Andrew Coulson wrote a detailed response to an attack on libertarian education reformers by Chester E. “Checker” Finn, Jr., President of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. Finn declared, among other things, that libertarian support of universal school choice, unfettered by government‐​imposed standards, typified how libertarians “never let their vision of how the world ought to work be distorted by any realities about how it actually works.”

As Andrew made clear, we have often explained, based on empirical research and political reality, why universal school choice is the key to powerful standards and accountability—not to mention efficiency and innovation—while government‐​controlled education is routinely corrupted by accountability‐​loathing special interests like teachers, administrators, and bureaucrats. We’ve shown, using historical and political analyses, how increasingly centralized control over education has frozen out parents and good pedagogy, and have explained why proposals for national standards, including Fordham’s, would be educational suicide. Yet we have been dismissed by Fordham folks as naïve and heartless.

Fortunately, not everyone at Fordham seems to have tuned us out. Today, after reading a Washington Post article on how good education research fails to translate into good policy, Coby Loup, a Fordham policy analyst, declares that government education is essentially doomed to failure. Why? Because of the very political realities that we at Cato have been lamenting for years:

What’s surprising is that so many people continue to believe that these embarrassments stem from a failure of political will, rather than the inherent obstacles posed by, as the Post puts it, the “turbulent forces of politics, policy and public opinion.” We always think we’ll do better next time around, when our guys or gals are in office.

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.