Jack Jennings Has Questions. We Answer with More Questions.
I thought about answering with evidence on how choice and competition among school districts improves educational outcomes from people like Caroline Hoxby, Henry Levin, and yours truly. But then I remembered that evidence is not really Jennings' thing.
It might be better to answer Jennings' question by slightly re-wording it to fit different contexts and see if it still seemed like a reasonable question. Here we go:
Or how about this:
This is getting easy. Here's another:
Why would Jennings think that he is making a persuasive argument with a rhetorical question that is rebutted by rigorous research and seems silly when transplanted to other situations? Sadly, Jennings rhetorical question may win some converts and it does so not by being reasonable or by being consistent with research findings. Jennings uses this rhetorical question because it appeals to peopleÃ¢€™s desire for power, not their desire for evidence or logical consistency. When Jennings asks how we can make schools better with so many independent school districts, he is appealing to the readerÃ¢€™s fantasy that they or their allies might be able to dominate the enhanced central authority that would substitute for so many independent school districts.
Inside most public policy wonks is a mini-dictator, waiting to come out. They dream about how things ought to be organizedÃ¢€Â¦ if only they were in charge. The drive for Common Core national standards is built on appealing to these mini-dictator fantasies.
Of course, if the mini-dictators realize that others are striving to control the central authority, they may turn against the idea if they think they are unlikely to be the ones in charge. That is our best hope. It is impossible to remove the thirst for power, but it is possible to (as the Founders realized) pit ambition against ambition in the hope that it will prevent tyranny.
FAIR USE NOTICE
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.