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November 02, 2009
Although Marc and I disagree on the promise of Relinquishment (most specifically on charter schools), I agree with much of this thinking.
But, in this report, Marc makes a strategic mistake in dismissing choice-based reforms.
To put it another way: if there is a grand bargain to be made that significantly increases student achievement in the United States, it could look like this:
Why could this bargain work? Because both Democrats and Republicans might actually support all three strategies.
Why might Marc’s vision not be realized without a charter strategy? Because, without charters, his reforms reduce testing accountability and increase spending, without increasing any elements of choice, competition, or entrepreneurship.
This is likely a nonstarter for many Americans, especially centrist and conservative policy makers.
Seventy percent of the public supports charter schools. Urban charter schools outperform traditional schools. And countries such as South Korea have shown that choice and competition can increase student achievement.
Pragmatically, Marc would be much more likely to see his vision realized if he embraced charter schools. And I believe firmly that this would be better for students.
So here’s my plea: Marc, embrace charters and choice in addition to your other excellent policy recommendations.
Regarding the report, I had mixed feelings, which I divided as follows:
Where I agree with Marc:
Where I disagree with Marc:
Where Marc really lost me (and perhaps many others):
Marc astutely details many of the dysfunctions of our current education-policy regime. For example, he says that we rely too much on high-stakes testing, we use low-quality assessments, and we implemented aggressive teacher-evaluation systems before actually trying to recruit and prepare better teachers.
But, in failing to embrace choice and charters, Marc makes both political and substantive mistakes. Charters are widely supported by the public and both political parties. Charters continue to demonstrate real gains with low-income students. And countries such as South Korea provide evidence that competition between education providers can increase performance.
So why not include charters in the platform?