(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)
Andy Smarick has a new paper out from AEI discussing Thomas Kuhn’s paradigm shift framework and the current context of American K-12. Everything he describes is very apparent in the discussion of K-12 out here in the Cactus Patch, especially the discussion about “Incommensurability.” Smarick describes the process by which adherents of the old and new paradigms stop making sense to each other:
According to Structure, the perspectives of adherents of the new paradigm are, in many respects, permanently and irrevocably incompatible with those of their predecessors. It is not just that the paradigms take different positions on particular issues; it is that they ask fundamentally different questions, look for different types of answers, and prioritize different things. Kuhn described it as talking past one another and “practic[ing] their trades in different worlds.
Just yesterday an unsigned editorial in the Arizona Republic read:
This year’s ESA budget is about $40 million according to the Arizona Department of Education. That is more than the state provided to fix things like lead-laced water and mercury in public schools.
In the same edition, Jeb Bush wrote a guest editorial:
ESAs will not cause a mass exodus from public schools. Instead the result will be improved public schools. An enterprise that can take its customers for granted behaves much differently than one that risks losing them.
In the Republic’s paradigm the state is responsible for flooring installed in some district campuses in the 1960s and 1970s and should cease giving students further choices until everything is all clear in district land. Obviously this is a serious problem that needs to be addressed, but the billions in funding that state taxpayers gave districts every year can be used on facilities, not just any additional emergency assistance. Moreover, the state was going to fund the ESA kids whether they went into the ESA program or not, and in fact the majority of them are special needs children, and the consistent claim of the districts have been that they must divert local funds for each child. It’s not like the budget for the ESA program in other words prevents districts and the state from addressing mercury-vapor inducing flooring in other words.
Under Governor Bush’s paradigm, the districts will continue to improve as long as parents have the ability to vote with their feet-whether it is to get away from toxic mercury vapors or a toxic academic or cultural climate etc.
And so it goes…