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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Who Benefits From School Reform? A Trick Question.

Who does benefit from school reform? Don’t say, “Everyone.” You don’t know everyone. And even if you mean that everyone should benefit, that is a different story. If should’s were does’s, we’d all be rich, happy and beautiful.

Who benefits from school reform? Don’t say, “the kids.” This may make you feel warm deep inside, but that’s where the warmth stays. Expect to be asked, “Which kids?” “Whose kids?” “Where, when, how?”

Does this mean that the idea of benefits from school reform is romantic nonsense? No. It just means that it is highly relative. And in our pluralistic democracy, “highly relative” means “politically difficult to achieve” and when publicly talked about, “likely little more than B.S.”

Certainly, nothing is a reform unless it is a change. And no change is a reform unless it is for the better, that is, the ratio of benefits to costs increases as compared to the status quo.

So, can we recast our “trick question” as “Who receives an increase in benefit/cost ratio when schools are changed?” That’s getting somewhere.

Now we have to tackle the reasonable distinction between benefits (or costs) as perceived in contrast to actual benefits (or actual costs). And who makes those judgments?

To examine these issues further, see Pursuing Educational Targets: 
What is the Collateral Damage?

--- EGR