Arnold Kling  

School Reform Successes

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The Economist touts some.


four important themes emerge: decentralisation (handing power back to schools); a focus on underachieving pupils; a choice of different sorts of schools; and high standards for teachers.

Pointer from Tyler Cowen.

I am skeptical. I think that there is a tendency for positive results in educational interventions to disappear over time or with attempts at replication. I think we are less likely to see a revolution coming from pedagogy than from pharmacology. That is, without miracle drugs or genetic tinkering, I would be surprised to see the sorts of improvements in human ability that people keep hoping that education reform will accomplish.

Meanwhile, Reuven Brenner writes,


If someone is not thrilled about math and the sciences, but is excited to repair cars, and would like to open a garage, the government doesn't offer him a $50,000 to $100,000 subsidy. Yet the bright kid gets just such subsidy - and more - when studying math, engineering, biology, or medicine. Guess what? Inequality will increase and the distribution of wealth becomes more skewed. Add to this the fact that lower skilled employees and even the mediocre ones face increasing amounts of competition from the rest of the world, and the much decried inequality becomes even more pronounced.


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COMMENTS (4 to date)
Dan Hill writes:

I agree that improvements in education outcomes are likely to be marginal even under the best assumptions. Maybe in terms of efficiency we're pretty much stuck, but let's look at efficiency and equity where I'd argue there is scope for massive reform.

In terms of efficiency, let's wind the clock back 30 years and get the same outcomes for half the real cost per student.

And in terms of equity, as Rueven points out, let's stop subsidising higher education which only reinforces the gap between rich and poor.

Jonathan Bechtel writes:

When I read papers like that I get the feeling people formally in charge of the problem are way too ensconced in the current system to consider potential solutions that lie outside of it.

I'm sure their results are valid to some degree, but when I think about the world I find myself working in today and the heterogeneous, specialized labor it demands and compare it to the sclerotic school system, I can't imagine the latter turning its wheels fast enough to deal with the problem.

I'm optimistic about the future of education, but mostly because I think there are plents of ways to go around the current system.

Roger Sweeny writes:

Brenner's words brought back heretical thoughts that I often have: most progressives like income inequality--as long as it is the right kind. If people with more schooling make more money, that is only right. Someone who dropped out of high school has no right to expect to get a good job.

Schooling is both a mechanism for "the intergenerational transmission of inequality" and a justification for it.

kyle8 writes:

Education should be more free market, If you advocate vouchers, then the vouchers should be used also by non-college bound students for specific job training.

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