Twitter must be infecting the brains of Washington and NY education policy “analysts.” I say this because I can’t figure out what else could explain the short and inexplicable missives emanating from Fordham these days. For example, The Education Gadfly declares with Twitter-length analysis: “While Gadfly supports the expansion of school choice to families in higher income brackets, he can’t help but wonder if the Year of the Funding Cliff is the right time for this idea to come of age.” That’s it. No other explanation, justification, or analysis is provided.
Uhm, don’t the folks at Fordham know that the voucher and tax-credit-funded scholarship plans being adopted during the current legislative session save states money? They have generally set the voucher or scholarship amount less than per pupil spending in traditional public schools precisely so that states would save money given the Funding Cliff that states are facing. That is an important part of the appeal of these programs to some state policymakers.
Another example of a Fordham analysis with all of the depth of a “Tweet” can be seen in Michael Petrilli’s email response to Don Boudreaux’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. Boudreaux critiques public education monopolies by asking: “What if groceries were paid for by taxes, and you were assigned a store based on where you live?.” He continues the analogy to how we provide public education by answering: “Being largely protected from consumer choice, almost all public supermarkets would be worse than private ones. In poor counties the quality of public supermarkets would be downright abysmal. Poor people—entitled in principle to excellent supermarkets—would in fact suffer unusually poor supermarket quality.”
Mike’s complete and penetrating analysis in his email response to this piece is: “Clearly Don Boudreaux hasn’t visited a Safeway or a Giant in an inner-city neighborhood, or else he wouldn’t have gone with this analogy. “
It’s short enough for Twitter, but does it make any sense? Yes, urban grocery stores tend to be less nice, but there is no doubt that they are better than if they were operated as local government monopolies. There is ample evidence that markets help deliver better services at lower cost even for the very poor.
Why would someone as smart and nice as Mike make this stupid, one-line retort? Why does Fordham’s Gadfly dismiss expanded vouchers with the mistaken and one-line claim that they cost more money and so would not be affordable with tight state budgets?
I fear that the brains of the people at Fordham have been shrunk by over-use of Twitter. Everything is a one-line quip. No need for facts, evidence, analysis, etc… Everything is a catty little fight.
Diane Ravitch is now tweeting about 60 times per day, but Mike Petrilli is not far behind at about 30-40 per day. And their tweets are some of the dumbest, ill-conceived things I’ve ever seen from such intelligent people. Seeing how Tweeting is rotting their brains makes me worried about whether I should give up blogging before I become similarly shallow.