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Commentary: Release Education to Free-Market Forces

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Reading First failed to have stellar results not because it favored a systematic use of phonics but because it was implemented by the federal government, argues Andrew J. Coulson over at Cato @ Liberty.

Coulson writes: "If we want schools around the country to continually adopt and refine the best methods available, we must create the freedoms and incentives that will cause that to happen… or get used to disappointment."

Basically Coulson is saying you can't trust the federal government to recommend "best practices" for reading, or education in general, because the government's recommendations will always be subject to political winds.

Meanwhile, though he's not advocating free-market forces, Eduflack is also expressing mistrust of the federal government's handling of Reading First. He writes that the government didn't adequately evaluate and share with the public information about whether Reading First dollars were spent effectively. And Eduflack sounds a warning that the federal government might not adequately monitor how money from the stimulus package is spent. "For many, relying on ED to measure the effectiveness of their own policies and their own spending is much like letting the fox guard the hen house," he says.

Edufack applauds the Education Trust for stepping up to be a watchdog of how states are spending stimulus dollars for education.

Readers, do either of these bloggers' opinions about Reading First strike a chord with you? If so, why?

2 Comments

This is an interesting debate. I'll partially agree with Coulson. The government absolutely needs to put more responsibility into the private sector. Market forces will push for change and do so more efficiently and effectively than the government. However, at the same time, the government needs to continue, and I would argue increase the level of funding into K12 education.

And I also commend Education Trust for being a watchdog for stimulus funds. It is imperative that these funds are used properly.

Thank you to Mr. Andrew J. Coulson for his commentary and for the research conducted by the Cato Institute on how the private sector should be more involved in helping to provide the highest quality education possible to children from K to 12.

The truth is that not public program is perfect and that no private sector solution is perfect. However, we owe to our children to unleash the power, vigor and competitive dynamism of the private sector to inspire new ideas, new pilot programs, new experiments. Then we can see what works.

In the case of the private sector what works can be tested easily. Are parents and students eagerly seeking out the service and voting with their wallets?

If so, then the program is working.

I am very concerned about the absence of any mention of the private sector in the public pronouncements of new Education Secretary Arne Duncan. I hope he understands that the private sector is pivotal if we are to find the best solutions to our K-12 education challenges.

Natalie Giron
Mrs Giron's Tutoring and Learning Center
Woodside, Queens

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