New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein recently stated:
People have said to me ‘Chancellor, we will never fix education in America until we fix poverty in America.’ Now I care about fixing poverty, but those people have got it exactly backwards folks. We are never going to fix poverty in America until we fix education in America, and this report shows that it is entirely doable.
Klein has both his theory of causality and priorities correct. Claiming that education cannot radically improve without the working class seizing the commanding heights of the American economy is more than silly. It is destructive to children.
A vastly expanded welfare state won’t change the fact that we recruit too few of the right people, and too many of the wrong people into teaching. It won’t change the fact that we distribute the limited supply of high-quality teachers as if we are intentionally stacking the deck against poor, inner city children. For that matter, it won’t change the fact we still don’t measure teacher effectiveness, and that when we do, we don’t do much of anything with the information. In fact **ahem** all of this happens in the government-controlled system of schools.
Pop quiz: should we bring the practices of our failed public school system to the rest of the economy to solve our education problems, or some market discipline into our failed schools? Anyone who actually cares about the plight of the poor would do well to listen to Chancellor Klein on this point.
Dr. Matthew Ladner is vice president for research at the Goldwater Institute.
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