Education Editorial: Controversial book on education reform

Education Editorial: Controversial book on education reform

Diane Ravitch, former US Assistant Secretary of Education, has written a new book called, "Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools." While it has not yet hit the bookstores, it is already creating controversy.

It allegedly charges that education reform in the US is being driven by wealthy business leaders. It even targets the likes of Bill Gates, whose foundation has given millions of dollars to education.

While it may be difficult to anticipate the concerns that she raises, it might be important to use the title to speculate on the issues. Since first President Bush's education summit at UVA, no election has been held where the candidates have not discussed education. The notion, generally, is that education has to be fixed.

In reality, some schools do need to be fixed; others work well. But it seems easier to say the "system" has gone to the dogs than it is to say that a specific school has gone to the dogs.

The involvement of the business community seems to be driven by two obligations: the first is to improve the quality of life and the second is to recruit and employ capable workers. The private sector doesn't have the latitude or motive to operate in an inherently inefficient environment.

While education is clearly a human service, it can learn some valuable lessons from the free enterprise system. If it doesn't work, close it. If it does work, replicate it. If you don't know the difference, contract with someone who does.

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