Crystal ball

Gadfly’s Chester Finn predicts the future of education, while The Condition of Education 2005 reports on the present.

About Joanne


  1. I’m glad Mr. Finn is predicting the future. When you get those predictions wrong it’s understandable. What’s really dispiriting is when people predict the past and get it wrong.

    First) This is a productivity improvement prediction so, not in the the vast bulk of the district-based schools. Productivity would certianly rank below educational efficacy as an institutional goal in district-based schools and educational efficacy doesn’t rank all that high.

    Second) Yeah but. The battle will be/is joined at the federal level to make the NCLB more “reasonable”, i.e. pull its teeth. This is what the NEA does best but they’ve got their work cut out for them. The House, Senate and White House don’t owe a thing to the NEA so the NEA’s leverage is not great. Still, politics is politics and with unrelenting focus the NEA might eek out a small victory here and there.

    Third) Agreed but it could go faster if the choice movement were more politically savvy. Charter schools are cheaper to run then district-based schools. There’s a potential tax cut. Or, funding for more cops, EMS, fireman, parks, roads without a tax increase. District-based schools and buildings sit on fairly substantial amounts of high-priced, untaxed real estate. The school choice movement has some potentially powerful allies if only they reached out to them.

    Four) Predicting the past. Sylvan Learning and Kumon are both within walking distance of my house. There are “1,400 Kumon Centers in North America”, “over 1,000 Sylvan Learning Centers in the United States and Canada” and over 3,000 charter schools. The centrality of the school district is eroding and with it the single most powerful factor underpinning the educational status quo.

    Five) Of course. The ten-pound, one-hundred dollar textbook is entirely a product of a monopoly. The value of the book to the educational process is inconsequential in comparison to its value to the various powerplayers in the educational industry. Break up the monopoly and the force that rationalizes the ten-pound textbook goes away.

    And one of my own…

    Six) sometime in the next five years a major, metropolitan school district will be disbanded to be replaced by charters.