November 30, 2011 § 7 Comments
The most mocked politician in recent history was Dan Quayle – the first George Bush’s Vice President. He said in 1991: “Let’s ask ourselves: Does America really need 70 percent of the world’s lawyers? Is it healthy for our economy to have 18 million new lawsuits coursing through the system annually? Is it right that people with disputes come up against staggering expense and delay?”
Apparently, the answer is no. We don’t use lawyers nearly as much (although this is a U. S. statistic) and we produce way too many lawyers at far too high a cost.
If the free market actually worked, this over supply of lawyers should significantly reduce legal costs. Will anyone do my will for $40?
October 11, 2011 § Leave a comment
Tom Flanagan is often at the top of the right wing crank list. However, he makes a decent case for some level of competition in education, based on the Alberta experience. I have two quibbles – competition works for families who are relatively decent advocates for their children. For children in the underclass, is the same thing true? Further, I have no problem with some kind of accountability, but we should be using measures that are far more sophisticated than “multiple choice” questions. Evaluation should be somewhat sophisticated.
August 23, 2011 § Leave a comment
Michelle Rhee is the school superintendent who best represents the current U. S. emphasis on teacher accountability. Now, the legitimacy of her district’s test scores is being questioned.
This is a large, complicated issue that can’t be reduced to three or four statements in a news story’s lede. It would seem obvious that school reform is something that requires the work and support of the entire community.
Does this mean that teachers are powerless to improve students’ performance? Absolutely not. However, the “testing” done by No Child Left Behind is mostly useless and very open to cheating. You have to spend money to do meaningful evaluation and the results won’t be summarized by a simple number. Similarly, improving instruction requires improving a set of skills that number in the hundreds. Business and industry wouldn’t use a few numbers to evaluate and improve employee performance – why would it be different in public education?