It’s fascinating to read Progressives as they think through a difficult policy problem. Kevin Drum writes (at Mother Jones!) that we can’t improve education or mitigate poverty:
“I continue to think that the biggest problem here is simply that no one has any really compelling answers. . . You can go down the list of every ed reform ever touted, and they either can't scale up, turn out to have ambiguous results when proper studies are done, or simply wash out over time. . .
So is the answer to address concentrated poverty? Sure. Except that, if anything, attempts to address poverty have a worse track record than attempts to improve education.
I would really, really like someone to tell me I'm wrong. So far, though, no one has. At least, not to my satisfaction. But I'm willing to be schooled if anyone thinks I'm missing the big picture here.”
Wow, Progressives really are depressed this year. Ezra Klein, mostly agrees, Matt Yglesias and Kevin Carey seem more optimistic. But I doubt any of them have compelling answers for Drum’s concerns.
So Kevin, Ezra, I’m here to tell you . . . you’re wrong. Let me rephrase that. You are right that all your Progressive solutions to these problems are perpetual and necessary failures. But there is a solution.
We know what improves education, allows success to scale quickly, and saves money as well; a real market in education, aka private school choice, the freer and broader the better. The education problem is intractable only if the government continues to monopolize education services.
As I noted just the other day in response to Rhee’s resignation, the government school system is unreformable.
Meanwhile, the evidence is consistent and clear that private school choice, markets in education, work. And private school choice even helps the kids who remain in government schools. Ah, and it saves a lot of money.
I really can’t say it any better than Andrew Coulson, our director here at CEF, slightly edited; “Given that quality and productivity in every other sector of human activity have been maximized through the operation of minimally regulated markets, and that the same pattern can be seen in the field of education, it seems to me that we should emphasize the need to ensure the broadest possible access to the freest possible education marketplace.”
I can feel it . . . Drum and company are just this close to being mugged by reality.