Since last month a new book out dealing with education reform has been sending waves on some good blogs, like the post on Marginal Revolution: Diane Ravitch turns on school choice and testing.
Her new book is The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education. Her bottom line is this:
The more uneasy I grew with the agenda of choice and accountability, the more I realized that I am too “conservative” to embrace an agenda whose end result is entirely speculative and uncertain. The effort to upend American public education and replace it with something market-based began to feel too radical for me. I concluded that I could not countenance any reforms that might have the effect — intended or unintended — of undermining public education.
This is a very interesting topic. We know that education is so important to get right if we are to improve economic competitiveness and continue to raise the standard of living for the next generation. It’s no wonder many intelligent people are eager to believe that market based reform just has to be an improvement on the status quo. But it is easy to argue for incentive based pay, vouchers, and all that stuff from the outside; while those on the inside often seem reluctant to embrace such ideas. And it turns out this may be for good reason.
A great way to get up to speed on this stuff is to listen to Russ Roberts’ recent interview with Ravitch:
I’m a big fan of Roberts and his show. Him being a proponent of free markets, and married to a teacher, I find his perspective especially relevant to me personally.