Cargo Cult Education Reform in Public Schools

One theme that I find in reading about innovation in education is the inability of public schools to scale promising solutions that demonstrate results in small scale tests.  Reading Joshua M Dunn’s Complex Justice: The Case of Missouri v. Jenkins, I found another instance:

…effective schools appear unsurprisingly to have effective practices—the effective schools movement mistakenly believed that mimicking the attributes of effective schools would transform failing schools into successful ones.  In other words, knowing the rather obvious point that strong instructional leadership helps make a school effective does not mean that one will know how to make good teachers out of the same people who had manifestly failed as teachers before.  But Levine and other expert witnesses testified that the chronically failing teachers and principals of the KCMSD could be transformed into effective ones if their recommendations were adopted.  The plan’s projected cost, $68,917,000, was almost three-quarters of the KCMSD’s yearly budget. [p. 86]

Now in retrospect, we know that this reform of the Kansas City public schools was an utter failure despite the educrats best practice reform fantasies being fully funded by a sympathetic federal judge.

I see a pattern here that is applicable beyond public education.  When government expands its domain to include services that should be within the province of free association, civil society, and the private sector, it results in an expensive failure.  Government officials, without understanding how such activity actually functions, go through the motions of the process as if their thoughtless muscular exertions would produce that same result that was dependent upon an active mind.  In the face of failure in such government programs, there is a repeated call for “reform”, but rarely for privatization.

This cargo cult mentality appears repeatedly in the Obama Administration:  GM (Government Motors) produces cars that are not bought, green energy “investments” yield bankruptcies and the destruction of capital, and Obamacare claims to be insurance but is not actually anything like insurance.

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One Response to Cargo Cult Education Reform in Public Schools

  1. Pingback: Top 10 Books for Selfish Citizens, 3rd Quarter 2013 | Selfish Citizenship

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