Friday, November 21, 2008

Free markets include more than vouchers

Props to Ross Douthat for calling out conservatives for limiting their focus to very narrow parts of the overall debate. This may become my new favorite quote in education:

“the most interesting arguments are between liberal reformers and liberal interest groups, with conservatives sitting on the sideline talking about vouchers and occasionally praising the Michelle Rhees and Corey Bookers of the world.”

He rightly points out (pun intended because it is Friday after all), that instead of letting liberals completely monopolize the debates that it is time for all sides to offer solutions to the complex issues facing education.

There are many free-market reforms that can, and should be on the list of policies that should receive more support. ABCTE offers competition to the monopoly held by the college’s of education. That competition will help raise the quality of all teachers in the system. The Association of American Educators offers teachers an alternative to joining a union and pushes all teacher groups to become more of a professional support group. Charter Schools and virtual schools are providing an outstanding example of free-market reforms as their waiting lists continue to grow.

Douthat points out that we all need to be working to encourage excellence in our public school bureaucracy. That excellence can only come from an aggressive agenda that focuses on the entire system and not just vouchers.

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