January 16, 2008
Sol Stern no longer walks hand-in-hand with the invisible hand. In an article in the Winter 2008 City Journal, he reconsiders his once staunch belief that educational choice will cure ailing public-school systems. He writes that "markets in education may not be a panacea" and notes, "the evidence is pretty meager that competition from vouchers is making public schools better." Stern is not the only choice advocate who is having second thoughts about the education market's power. Fordham's own Checker Finn told the New York Sun that he, too, doubts the ability of vouchers to affect widespread school-to-school competition and educational change. (We hear that Finn writes about this conversion in his forthcoming book.) Stern concludes: "Education reformers ought to resist unreflective support for elegant-sounding theories...that don't produce verifiable results in the classroom." Fair point, but let's not go too far. Choice may not be "enough," but the evidence in favor of education monopolies isn't so hot either. A smart combination of parental choice and educational standards is the middle way--and the best way--to stronger schools in the future.
"A Libertarian Is Searching For an Education ‘Plan B'," by Elizabeth Green, New York Sun, January 14, 2008
"School Choice Isn't Enough," by Sol Stern, City Journal, Winter 2008