If reform fails . . .

If education reform fails, what will happen? Two Washington Post op-eds preview the future, writes Eduwonk.

Michael Gerson lauds the spread of choice and increasing chances that it could happen at scale.  On the same page Eugene Robinson announces that Atlanta shows the folly of incentives linked to testing.

Both show what’s likely if reform efforts collapse, writes Eduwonk.  ”

It’s not a return to the old days of benign neglect where the money flowed pretty freely and consequences were scarce.”

 Instead, he predicts more choice, less accountability and limited funding.

Choice without accountability is not

the “formula for widespread improvement,” he writes.

About Joanne


  1. Choice w/o accountability is not a formula for improvement because different parents want different things from education. On the other hand, with choice, every school would enjoy parental support at home, which would make teaching easier….

    • The parents who want college prep could ensure that their kids got it, the parents who lean votech could have it, and the people who are just looking for free daycare? Well, those schools will be really cheap to run! Employers could see where someone went to school and have a good idea of what kind of employee they’d be.

      • Stacy in NJ says:

        Right. School choice returns accountability to its proper place – with parents and students. To receive a charter from a state or accept a voucher schools need to meet some minimum educational standards/requirements. Day care centers most be licensed after all.

    • The accountability’s inherent in who’s doing the choicing.

      If mommies and daddies are making the choices they’ll make mommy and daddy choices among which will be the choice to find the best education for their kids. Parents will want to have some basis for the choice they make and in the grand tradition of demand creating supply that parental need for information with which to evaluate schools will result in the vigorous development of supplies of evaluation mechanisms.

      Heck, you don’t even have to wait for that educational utopia to emerge. GreatSchools.com provides a bunch of information to help parents evaluate schools and as reform proceeds, and the importance of comparisons becomes more urgent, Greatschools will attract competition.

      • Mike in Texas says:

        Once again Allen your glaring lack of any knowledge or experience with kids is showing. Mommy and Daddy will make the best decision? Come visit me at my school and let me tell you about the parents we have.

        • Here’s the problem. We’ve raised several generations with the idea that all personal choices are equally valid and that being ‘judgmental’ is bad. So why should a teacher, who obviously has some prejudices in favor of ‘traditional schooling,’ know better than parents about what’s good for a child?

          I mean, out-of-wedlock childbearing is worse for kids than mediocre schools, yet we don’t have “No couple left behind” to ensure that all couples raise kids in stable two-parent homes?

          Why should all aspects of the culture be ‘just a matter of taste’ EXCEPT for choosing a school? That’s illogical? Schools don’t deserve a special place in the culture just because you like them better!

          Now, if your industry can agree to return to a ethos of ‘uplifting the poor’, maybe we can talk. But right now, that just smacks of paternalism. And paternalism is bad because it quickly leads to patriarchy and all that.

        • Fortunately Mike a lack of any knowledge or experience isn’t an impediment to knowing when you’re being screwed which is why parents opt out, or try to opt out, of dismal district schools such as those that employ the likes of you, when the opportunity presents itself.

          Say Mike, here’s a thought. I could introduce you to a couple of parents who’ve made the decision to put their kids in charter schools. You could explain to them that they shouldn’t choose their kid’s school because of their lack of knowledge or experience.

          Care to guess what their response might be?

          I could provide you with their response having heard it a couple of times but I’m pretty sure Joanne would frown on the sort of language to which parents resort when faced with a threat to their children.

          • Mike in Texas says:

            Allen, and I could introduce you to a mother who trains her son to steal objects to support her crack habit, and trains her son how to lie to the police about it.

            As much as you and I would like it, not all parents are kind, caring and have their child’s best interest at heart. Your charter school parents cared enough to jump through the extra hoops to get their kid enrolled. Let’s hope the child isn’t learning disabled, dyslexic, ADHD or have any other maladies that will get him/her kicked out of most charter schools.
            And as always, I noticed you still stoop to hurling personal insults in the lack of facts. You’re weak.

          • I think there are plenty of both types of parents out there. I’ve had to deal with helicopter parents that would harass me when their child didn’t get an ‘A’ in everything (at a ritzy charter school); and I’ve had to deal with parents like the ones Mike described (at an inner city school). Mike’s examples are quite real, and very sad to see in person…

          • As long as the subject of “weak” has been brought up is there any other way to characterize the silly notion that crack-addicted parents are common enough to be a counter-argument against parental choice?

            And since you seem to have a taste for red herring, it doesn’t really matter that “not all parents are kind, caring and have their child’s best interest at heart”. It’s a cinch they’re more likely to have the child’s best interests at heart then someone who’s pulling a paycheck endless claims to saintliness not withstanding.

            I do, however, enjoy the irony of your accusation of name-calling in view of the last two words of your post.

  2. cranberry says:

    I must be slow on the uptake. How do we determine if education reform has succeeded? If it’s failed?

  3. Stacy in NJ says:

    “Choice without accountability is not the “formula for widespread improvement,” he writes.”

    It succeeds if we have “widespread improvement”. My assumption is he means improved educational outcome, i.e. graduation rates, standardized test scores, college or vocational readiness.

  4. ‘Idiocracy’. That’s where we’ll be in a few generations (or less) if K-12 in the good ol’ USA continues to be such a politically correct, dumbing down disaster.