Reform School: Parts 4 and 5

The folks at ChoiceMedia.TV have developed a new PBS series focused on education reform issues called “Reform School.”  Below you can see part 4 of the show.  You can see two earlier clips here.

UPDATE:  And here is part 5:

5 Responses to Reform School: Parts 4 and 5

  1. In terms of politicizing the federal funding and waivers, Jay, the research on a “predictor” of Race to the Top funds is quite potentially a “correlation is not causation” issue. Not that I doubt the possibility of corruption in any human endeavor. But such concerns as an argument against a federal role in education veers far too close to a conspiracy theory to be credible.

  2. “And Race to the Top also gets states to do bad things …”

    Such as?

    “Well, Common Core. They have to implement Common Core …”

    A little quid pro quo there, Jay. The assumption is that Common Core is a “bad thing.”

    They didn’t challenge you on that, but based on your previous statements, they should have. For example, when you say, “Who’s to say that the federal govts reforms are the right ones? Or that there aren’t other reforms out there …”

    Well, who are you to say they are the wrong?

    You argue with a lot of assumptions, which is exactly the position for which you criticize federal reforms. I find that to be curious.

    • I may be wrong about whether a particular reform is good or bad but, unlike the federal government, I can’t coerce states into adopting the reforms I prefer. The question isn’t whether I am correct about Common Core or whatever else, but why you think the federal government is so smart at picking the reform winners and will always be that smart in the future.

      The beauty of letting localities decide without coercion which reforms to pursue is that they are in the best position to pick what their communities need and able to watch what others do and learn from their experience. If everyone has to do what the feds want there will be no customization for local needs and no process for experimenting and learning.

  3. When the federal government had the sole ability to influence desegregating schools it wasn’t a bad idea. Neither is its ability to encourage the passage of seatbelt and helmet laws or speed limits. Your de facto opposition to the federal government being able to promote positive agendas is insufficient for some valuable reforms. When the Oakland school system made the decision to start teaching ebonics as a language, many cried foul. It was only because the federal government had the ability to influence through funding that this naive policy was rescinded. The federal government has valid cause – as a representative of the whole United States – when federal tax dollars are being distributed. For many reasons, we need and desire federal funding because many areas cannot compete economically with others. For the federal government to then encourage decisions based on the will of the people – all voters on a national level – it seems like a pretty reasonable system. Otherwise, we can go back to the fed just distributing money – and some state feeling the right to say, “Well, we just decided not to educate some kids … for example, minority kids.

    Now, I know you don’t support a state’s right to do that. So ….?

    • In a federal system some things are best handled centrally and some are best handled by localities. I would suggest that you read Paul Peterson’s The Price of Federalism for a good explanation of what kind of policy is best dealt with at which level. In brief (and I’ve written about this on the blog before), the federal government is positioned to handle redistributive policies, like civil rights, welfare, and national security, while state local governments are best positioned to handle developmental policies, like police, roads, parks, and education. Of course, there are some issues of overlap, such as civil rights in education, where the feds legitimately become involved in what is otherwise a developmental policy, but as a general matter education is not well-suited to federal power. The basic logic behind this argument is that choice and competition among localities provide the right incentives to develop the right developmental policies but they discourage redistribution. If localities try to redistribute they attract those seeking the redistribution and drive away tax base. So competition undermines redistribution but enhances development. Localities exist in a competitive environment while the feds can impose a monopoly on all.

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