The District of Columbia is using Professor Harold Hill’s think system to improve its public schools, setting itself up for lawsuits when happy thoughts don’t create better results. So writes Rick Hess of American Enterprise Institute in the Washington Post:
If your city’s schools were spending more than $15,000 per student per year to produce horrendous academic results, a broken special education system and an inept facilities program, what would you do?
Well, if you’re the D.C. Council, you would embrace hollow rhetoric and invite the lawyers to sue your pants off. Just in time for the fall elections, the council is poised to amend the Home Rule Act by requiring that the city provide “free, high-quality public schools.”
Mayoral candidate Adrian M. Fenty worries people are leaving D.C. in search of better schools. “I think we raise the standards, and then we meet the standards.”
But nobody agrees on how to define “high quality,” Hess points out.
Nationally, only three states promise “high-quality” schools. All three — Florida, Illinois and Virginia — have been sued based on that language.
D.C. can’t provide medium-quality schools, Hess writes. Guaranteeing “high quality” is a great way to throw the district into the courts, which have a lousy record when it comes to running schools.