That's my synopsis of this E.J. Dionne column about our current economic tribulations.
Since the Reagan years, free-market cliches have passed for sophisticated economic analysis. But in the current crisis, these ideas are falling, one by one, as even conservatives recognize that capitalism is ailing. You know the talking points: Regulation is the problem and deregulation is the solution.
I can hear the education blob-osphere now: "That's right, E.J., and we've had too much deregulation in education, too. Too many charter schools, too much ???alternative' teacher certification, too much power in the hands of principals. What we need are some good old-fashioned regulations!"
First of all, I suspect that even E.J. would agree that merely calling for re-regulation wouldn't pass as "sophisticated economic analysis," either. But more importantly, in education, we're nowhere near the point where we've deregulated too much. Yes, there have been some high-profile examples when certain states or jurisdictions went too far; the early days of Arizona's or Texas's charter school programs come to mind, as quality-control mechanisms were not strongly in place. But the answer is not a return to old-fashioned regulation, but a move to smart regulation.
That's what the standards-based reform movement was supposed to be about: regulating outcomes (student learning especially) instead of inputs (class size, teacher credentials, etc.). We've followed through on the outcomes side (though still have plenty of tweaking to do when it comes to measuring student achievement fairly and accurately). But by...