Arnold Kling

Prescriptions for Education

Arnold Kling, Great Questions of Economics
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In National Review Online, S. T. Karnick writes

There is only one suspect that has had the requisite means, motive, and opportunity to ruin American education...Phonics, memorization, multiplication tables, and the like have been pushed aside for theory-based alternatives such as whole language learning, the New Math, participatory learning, and values clarification, all based on theories of psychology and instruction prevalent in the nation's schools of education.

Karnick's point is that curriculum reform is based on untested theories. I have noticed the same thing. If the Food and Drug Administration were as unscientific as the education bureaucracy, there would be no drug trials at all--the approval of new treatments and medicines would be based entirely on trends, fads, and the whims of bureaucrats.

(For more on vouchers, see If We Canít Choose Our School, Why Should We Be Able To Choose Our Grocer? by James Miller or Efficiency, Entrepreneurship, and Education by yours truly.)

Discussion Question. Introducing school choice and vouchers would make schools accountable to parents, but by itself it would not lead to scientific evaluation of curriculum reform. Is an FDA-like process warranted for schooling practices?

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