(Guest post by Greg Forster)
OCPA carries my article on why a universal ESA is the way to go if you want to improve outcomes in the government school system:
We’ve tried lots of strategies for getting better outcomes out of the monopoly school system. We’ve tried spending an endless geyser of additional money—Oklahoma school spending went up from $3,771 per student in 1970 to $8,735 in 2016 (in inflation-adjusted dollars), and has continued to increase, hitting a record total this year. We’ve tried high-stakes testing. We’ve tried raising teacher pay. Other states have run major experiments with everything from smaller classes to merit pay for teachers to mandatory graduation exams.
Here and there, a few of these efforts have produced local instances of success. But none of them has worked consistently at scale. And even the local success stories have a tendency to fade over time, as school leadership inevitably gets passed on to a new “pharaoh who knew not Joseph.”
What works? School choice, according to a large and consistent body of empirical research.
Some people simply can’t wrap their heads around the idea that government schools would be improved by taking the handcuffs off parents and allowing them to leave the system. They’re so busy “strengthening” the system that they can’t see they’re really weakening it. They’re denying it the one thing it really needs: healthy accountability. Bob Dylan was right—you gotta serve somebody.
This is sometimes called the “paradox of intention.” It happens when people are so monomaniacally intent on achieving a goal that they lose perspective on the big picture, and as a result, do things that are counterproductive even for the goal they’re obsessed with. We’ve all seen the guy who wants a date with a particular girl so badly that he acts stalkerish and creepy around her. In every war, there are leaders who want to capture a particular position so badly that they don’t have the patience to wait for the right moment to strike. We keep shoving bigger subsidies at colleges because we want to make tuition affordable, and as a direct result, tuition keeps climbing into the stratosphere.
Come for the overview of school-choice research, stay for the snappy C.S. Lewis quote at the end!
Exercise your right to hold others accountable through choice by choosing to let me know what you think.