Home > Uncategorized > Harvard Magazine’s Flawed Underlying Assumption Leads to Flawed Conclusions

Harvard Magazine’s Flawed Underlying Assumption Leads to Flawed Conclusions

Diane Ravtich included a link in one of her recent posts to a Harvard Magazine article by Marina Bolotnikova titled “Debating School Choice”. The article’s main points, as summarized by Diane Ravitch were that flaws in the existing choice models defied fixing in the long run because affluent parents would ultimate withdraw from any district that regressed too closely to the mean. Worse, if a perfect choice model were ever put in place it would cause housing values to regress toward the mean, thereby diminishing the source of wealth that is most precious and singular to the more affluent parents. After reading the article I left the following comment:

One question should be posed here: why conceive of public education as a commodity? Those who seek any kind of public school “choice” always begin with the underlying belief that un-fettered market forces will invariably lead to a good social outcome… and that is clearly not the case. Without government regulations our environment wold be much worse, our society would be even more unequal than it is, and the nation’s diet and the nation’s health would be far worse. Why would we want to subject our schools to de-regulated market forces at all?

If you’ve read previous posts on this blog you know it is crucial to frame schools as a commodity in order to make their operations subject to the same models as, say, Walmart or McDonalds which take retailing and restaurant management to the most profitable levels possible… and that, in turn, requires lowering costs by suppressing wages and benefits and relentless drive for efficiency at the cost of the well-being of employees and the culture at large. Keep schools in the public domain… and keep choice for post secondary schooling.

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