Education reformers should be happy campers, writes Jay P. Greene in We won! Instead, Rick Hess and Mike Petrilli are gloomy and Liam Julian fears the new crop of naive reformers are doomed to fail,
Let’s review. It is now commonly accepted among mainstream elites — from Oprah to Matt Lauer to Arne Duncan — that simply pouring more money into the public school system will not produce the results we want. It is now commonly accepted that the teacher unions have been a significant barrier to school improvement by protecting ineffective teachers and opposing meaningful reforms. It is now commonly accepted that parents should have a say in where their children go to school and this choice will push traditional public schools to improve. It is now commonly accepted that we have to address the incentives in the school system to recruit, retain, and motivate the best educators.
These reform ideas are “broadly accepted across both parties and across the ideological spectrum,” Greene writes. That’s huge. “Our ideas for school reform are now the ones that elites and politicians are considering and they have soundly rejected the old ideas of more money, more money, and more money.”
Winning the war of ideas doesn’t mean winning the policy war, of course.
As I’ve written before, the teacher unions are becoming like the tobacco industry. No one accepts their primary claims anymore, but that doesn’t mean they don’t continue to be powerful and that people don’t continue to smoke.
The unions will try to block, dilute or co-opt the design and implementation of reforms, Greene writes. “But for a moment can’t we just bask in the glow of our intellectual victory — even if our allies are a new crop of naive reformers?”