If you haven’t been following the raging debate over national educational standards, congratulations, you’re exactly like me. But I’ll tell you one dude who HAS been following that discussion, and that’s our pal Jay Greene at the University of Arkansas Dept. of Education Reform.
Earlier this week, Greene testified before a real live Congressional committee, where he argued that national standards are wrongheaded, and he urged policymakers to embrace a view of educational improvement driven by choice, competition and decentralized decision-making. Let’s sample that track:
There is an unfortunate tendency in public policy to stifle this decentralized process of setting standards. Policymakers are often tempted to identify the best approach, often through a panel of experts, and then impose that approach on everyone. After all, if something is the best, why would we want to allow people to do something else? This is a temptation I urge you to resist in education.
Even the best-intentioned experts have a hard time recognizing what the best approach would be. And once it is set by experts, there is no mechanism like the one we get from choice and competition for improving upon that whatever “best” standards, curriculum, and assessments are identified.
Essentially, what we are talking about is the danger of central planning. It doesn’t work in running the economy any more than it would in running our education system.
For more Greeniana, check out our interview with Jay about his new mini-book, Why America Needs School Choice, which you should totally read. And here he is talking up school choice with the good folks at Reason.tv: