On September 3, I participated in a launch event for Mike McShane’s new book, Education and Opportunity, a publication of AEI’s “Values and Capitalism” initiative. The following are my amended remarks about the book, namely our improved understanding of K–12 markets, the downsides of a unitary system of schools, and the intersection of such reform and conservatism.
I want to focus on three elements of this valuable new book. The first two relate to its contributions to our improved thinking about school choice. The third relates to the tension between school choice and conservatism.
First, Education and Opportunity offers a sophisticated view of public school markets, how to understand them, use their strength, and appreciate their limitations.
The book’s thrust is neatly summarized by one of its early sentences: “A vibrant marketplace of education options is the most effective means of developing the schools necessary to meet the needs of students today and in the years to come.”
Many writers on school choice have focused on the importance of options. But note the use of “vibrant” and “developing.” This suggests a portfolio of schools that’s full of energy and dynamism. This is not a minimally diverse set of schools, a collection that exists in perpetuity. In this sentence and throughout the book, Mike describes a portfolio consisting of a wide array of options, a portfolio that continuously improves in quality and evolves to reflect the changing needs of families.
This echoes the great insight from charter...