I found Joseph Darby’s April 4 commentary to be more than a bit specious. Let’s start with a simple fact: In the past 50 years spending on education (adjusted for inflation) has more than tripled, and yet there has been zero improvement in test scores.
Add to this the fact that virtually all major businesses have repeatedly complained that high school graduates are not prepared for jobs. They do not have the basic attitudes and behaviors required for work, and they do not have the basic math, writing and common sense skills they need.
A simple thought experiment: I’m running a business. I have invested, over a 50-year period, three times the money against a base period for a particular process, and I have not witnessed any difference in outcome/return. What should I conclude?
To suggest that government (i.e., taxpayers) should spend more to continue existing programs does not address the problem. What we need is experimentation in the form of vouchers, charter schools and other creative constructs combined with rigorous program evaluations.
Darby states that charter schools show no more improvement than public schools. But some charter schools have shown significant improvement over public schools, and if they don’t show improvement they can at least be shut down.
One problem for some charter schools is state regulation that allows multiple authorizing agencies (with varying political motivations) to control such programs.
The answer here is to level the playing field and get rid of politically motivated constraints against charter, voucher systems and non-public schools.
Darby clearly does not understand that a free market is all about freedom and experimentation. No serious educational reform will ever occur under the existing system. No increase in funding will improve real outcomes.
What we need is much more unconstrained experimentation measured against specified outcomes plus thorough cost benefit analysis.
Coral Reef Drive