Public Education–With a Bar so Low–We Can Do It!

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   Do not think about, write about or deal with  human behavior without determining the effects of incentives. It’s not their money, of course they’ll waste it.

     Wherein we see what happens in government so often. A little progress now, maybe, with much more promised.

DC Administrator Expects Good Schools "Sometime in the Next 10 or 20 Years"
David Boaz

Kaya Henderson has gotten great reviews for her work as chancellor of D.C. Public Schools. Test scores are up during her tenure, though not as much as the hype. But take a look at this vision in an article on her departure:

    Henderson cautions that improving schools that had long struggled does not happen quickly. And even with the school reform efforts over the the past decade, it may still be another decade — or more — before anyone can declare something approaching victory.

    “There will be a day when every school in the city is doing amazing work and you won’t have to enter a lottery, you literally could drop your kid off at any school and have them an amazing experience. I believe we’re within reach of that, probably sometime in the next 10 or 20 years,” she says.

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   Set low goals and declare success when they’re reached. That’s an unusual socialist technique where usually they set high goals and lie about achieving them.

Every form of communication and information technology is changing before our eyes, except the schools and the post office.

Good schools “sometime in the next 10 or 20 years” – “probably”? Can you imagine a private-company CEO promising that his company would be good at its core business “probably sometime in the next 10 or 20 years,” after his retirement?

The Central Planning of Children

No wonder Albert Shanker, the first head of the American Federation of Teachers, said back in 1989:

    It’s time to admit that public education operates like a planned economy, a bureaucratic system in which everybody’s role is spelled out in advance and there are few incentives for innovation and productivity. It’s no surprise that our school system doesn’t improve: it more resembles the communist economy than our own market economy.

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      The lack of proper incentives in all government bureaucracies is the key to their constant failure. This will also do in any attempt to “reform” DC schools. There’ll be a lot of pretend, spin and cheering for nothing.

Indeed, we have in each city in the United States an essentially centralized, monopoly, uncompetitive, one-size-fits-all school system that has been stagnating for more than a century. As I wrote in the book Liberating Schools,

    The problem of the government schools is the problem inherent in all government institutions. In the private sector, firms must attract voluntary customers or they fail; and if they fail, investors lose their money, and managers and employees lose their jobs. The possibility of failure, therefore, is a powerful incentive to find out what customers want and to deliver it efficiently. But in the government sector, failures are not punished, they are rewarded. If a government agency is set up to deal with a problem and the problem gets worse, the agency is rewarded with more money and more staff — because, after all, its task is now bigger.  An agency that fails year after year, that does not simply fail to solve the problem but actually makes it worse, will be rewarded with an ever-increasing budget.  What kind of incentive system is this? 

This is ridiculous. Every form of communication and information technology is changing before our eyes, except the schools and the post office. It’s time to give families a choice. Free them from the monopoly school system. Give families education tax credits or education savings accounts. Make homeschooling easier. Let them opt out of the big-box school – and get their money back – and watch Khan Academy videos.
Children spend 12 years in government monopoly schools. If they don’t get started right in the first couple of years, they’re running behind for life. It’s just not right to tell parents to wait 10 to 20 years for the tax-supported monopoly schools to start educating decently.

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     Change the incentives or the outcomes will not change.


Government Job or Respect–Which’ll It Be?
Cheerio and ttfn,
Grant Coulson, Ph.D.
Author, “Power Teaching: How to Find Someone to Teach Your Child when the Education System has Failed.
Cui Bono–Cherchez les Contingencies

 

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