Advancing a Free Society

How to Run Public Schools in the 21st Century

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Almost everyone who cares about revitalizing American primary-secondary education senses that many of its fundamental structures are archaic and its governance arrangements dysfunctional. Yet any effort to address those problems typically leads either to a glazed look on the visage of the putative audience ("governance" is such a wonky topic, best consigned to civics courses, while we pay attention instead to sexy issues like vouchers and merit pay) or else to eye-rolling and shoulder-shrugging (because even if structure and governance pose problems, it’s "politically hopeless" to do anything about them). In the background, too, is our knee-jerk obeisance to "local control of education," whatever that may mean in 2011.

Yet not to confront the challenges of structure and governance in public education in our time is to accept the glum fact that the most earnest of our other "reform" efforts cannot gain enough traction to make a big dent in America’s educational deficit, to produce a decent supply of quality alternatives to the traditional monopoly, or to defeat the adult interests that typically rule and benefit from that monopoly.

Continue reading Chester Finn in Defining Ideas