Worth Noting

May 08, 1991 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A big omission from both Kentucky’s and Tennessee’s school reforms is parental choice. Joe Nathan of the Humphrey Institute in Minneapolis calls this a tragic mistake. His evaluation of the results of school choice in Minnesota shows that it improves performance--something not yet demonstrated for school-based management and improved accountability alone.

Educators in Kentucky and Tennessee retort that choice means little in their rural eastern counties, many of which have only one school and little transport. They fear that choice, especially if extended to private schools, could lead to two-tier education or the re-emergence of segregated schools. Advocates of choice say this should not happen so long as it is pupils that choose schools, not the other way round. The best test for both sides, as with other much-talked-about school reforms, will come when the results of change are known.

Until then it might be worth watching Britain, where the 1988 Education Act is using a mixture of local management, increased accountability, and greater parental choice to raise standards. By making finance depend partly on the number of children a school can attract--in effect by turning each pupil into a voucher--and by published results of national tests--the goverment hopes to channel money to the best schools.

The federal government loves to say that more money will not solve America’s education problems. But reforming states have found that more money is a necessary way of getting entrenched interest groups behind school reform. Even if the money is found at the state level, it affects Washington because state income taxes are deductible from federal taxes. If [U.S. Secretary of Education Lamar] Alexander is to make his mark, he may find himself battling federal budgeteers as well as state educators.

--From the March 16, 1991, issue of The Economist.

A version of this article appeared in the May 08, 1991 edition of Education Week as Worth Noting


English-Language Learners Webinar Helping English-Learners Through Improved Parent Outreach: Strategies That Work
Communicating with families is key to helping students thrive – and that’s become even more apparent during a pandemic that’s upended student well-being and forced constant logistical changes in schools. Educators should pay particular attention
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Mathematics Webinar
Addressing Unfinished Learning in Math: Providing Tutoring at Scale
Most states as well as the federal government have landed on tutoring as a key strategy to address unfinished learning from the pandemic. Take math, for example. Studies have found that students lost more ground
Content provided by Yup Math Tutoring
Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Nearly a Million Kids Vaccinated in Week 1, White House Says
Experts say there are signs that it will be difficult to sustain the initial momentum.
4 min read
Leo Hahn, 11, gets the first shot of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. Last week, U.S. health officials gave the final signoff to Pfizer's kid-size COVID-19 shot, a milestone that opened a major expansion of the nation's vaccination campaign to children as young as 5. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Education How Schools Are Getting Kids the COVID Shot, and Why Some Aren’t
Some district leaders say offering vaccine clinics, with the involvement of trusted school staff, is key to helping overcome hesitancy.
5 min read
A girl walks outside of a mobile vaccine unit after getting the first dose of her COVID-19 vaccine, outside P.S. 277, Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
Education Biden Administration Urges Schools to Provide COVID-19 Shots, Information for Kids
The Biden administration is encouraging local school districts to host vaccine clinics for kids and information on benefits of the shots.
2 min read
President Joe Biden, and first lady Jill Biden walk to board Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Biden is spending the weekend at his home in Rehoboth Beach, Del. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Education Civil Rights Groups Sue Tennessee Over Law Against Transgender Student Athletes
The state law bars transgender athletes from playing public high school or middle school sports aligned with their gender identity.
3 min read
Amy Allen, the mother of an 8th grade transgender son, speaks after a Human Rights Campaign round table discussion on anti-transgender laws in Nashville, Tenn. on May 21, 2021.
Amy Allen, the mother of an 8th grade transgender son, speaks after a Human Rights Campaign round table discussion on anti-transgender laws in Nashville, Tenn. on May 21, 2021.
Mark Humphrey/AP