(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)
I had the pleasure of participating in a debate/discussion on tensions in the education reform movement at the New Schools Venture Fund Summit yesterday in San Fransico. I attempted to make the following points:
- Big Tents are good and disagreements are okay, failure even is okay, but an unwillingness to learn from failure is a huge problem.
- If you hold focus groups on K-12 education you learn that the public hates current standardized testing practices and that the deeply misguided federal opt-out provision that passed the United States House of Representatives was no fluke.
- The failure of Question 2 in Massachusetts is screaming a warning into our deaf ear about the dangers of excluding non-urban communities from parental choice efforts. Everyone should go back and read the Rick Hess 2011 National Affairs piece “Our Achievement Gap Mania” in light of the Question 2 disaster. School choice needs to decide whether it wants to be Social Security or AFDC. For much of the history of the movement we chose an AFDC model where everyone pays in but only certain people benefit, and, well…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ubw5N8iVDHI
- The federal government is deeply in a growing amount of debt and has $75 trillion in unfunded entitlement liabilities to contend with. The pendulum has already swung against a large federal role in K-12, and Uncle Sam’s solvency issues are likely to freeze it that way for a long while if one assumes a prioritization for programs like Social Security and Medicare. We are only five years out from half of the Baby Boomers reaching age 65.
- Folks should do their best to remain calm on private choice because it ultimately not a threat to public education and helps kids find a good fit school.
I have a minority viewpoint on K-12 reform, and I appreciate Stacy Childress including me in the discussion. We should have far more discussions like this, and less bomb throwing over social media.