Getting Rid of Central Planning in Education

June 19, 2014

Today, children's education is shifting from a standardized system towards a more customizable, personalized experience for every child, says Jason Bedrick, policy analyst for the Cato Institute's Center for Educational Freedom.

With this change towards personalization and the growth of school choice programs, Bedrick contends that it is time to abandon centralized accountability measures in exchange for more parental accountability. Parents, he writes, are in the best position to choose the education providers that best meet their children's needs.

Centralized, top-down accountability measures, on the other hand, are poor substitutes. In an attempt to guarantee quality, the government has put various accountability measures in place. However, in order for these systems to work, they must work for many different children, over and over again, as circumstances change.

Educational choice programs are the better way forward:

  • Choice systems allow parents to choose, and they allow new, non-conventional ways of educating to develop.
  • Parents can evaluate these programs and select the approach that is best for their child.
  • In the long run, effective systems are left standing while the ineffective ones are weeded out.

Some argue that market-based education reforms should be tied to standardized tests, but such tests require participating providers to conform, limiting the number of existing choices for the parents.

A lack of government-imposed standards does not mean having no education standards whatsoever. Rather, a larger market of education services would lead to the growth of competing standards, through various entities that rate and certify education providers. Education providers will be incentivized to give information to these raters in order to demonstrate their quality.

Giving parents real, effective choices will require us to do away with top-down accountability measures, says Bedrick.

Source: Jason Bedrick, "Education Excellence Can't Be Achieved From Above," redefinED, June 9, 2014

 

Browse more articles on Education Issues