Milton Friedman would have been proud, if he hadn't been so confused. The push for privatized education is just what the good doctor of economics ordered, in the form of vouchers to allow parents to purchase the best school for their kids. But he also said "We have always been proud, and with good reason, of the widespread availability of schooling to all and the role that public schooling has played.."
The following is a conservative summary, liberally interpreted, of the five steps necessary to save education in the U.S.:
1. Think of Children as Our Most Important Product
Charter schools are criticized for a few reports that document their poor or mediocre performance in comparison with public schools. The often quoted Stanford University Credo study is one. Others come from the Department of Education, Johns Hopkins University, the RAND Corporation, and the National Charter School Research Project.
But there are numerous reputable research organizations who have not produced negative reports on charter schools.
Success stories like the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) and the SEED School show that the concept works if motivated students are chosen, if underperforming students are counseled toward alternative schools, and if expense is not spared to show the potential rewards for those innovating the process. Just as we test and re-test a product to ready it for market, so our children can benefit from industry-like quality control.
Most relevant for charter schools is the level of scalability. With economies of scale the true efficiency of the model touted by Mitt Romney can be realized. An example is the Louisiana Believes project, which will eventually be the country's most extensive voucher system. Although only 5,000 slots exist for about 400,000 eligible students, Louisiana intends to promote equal opportunity by ...