Herewith an argument from the The Pour (yes, the New York Times wine blog) about why rigid standards--and not popularity--is the adequate gauge of quality.
Fordham comes under attack from our libertarian-leaning friends because we support choice with accountability--i.e., we're not content to let the market decide which schools are great and which aren't, because when quality counts, the market is often wrong.
It's one thing, of course, to let the market determine which wines people drink, or which television shows are most popular. But if you know anything about wine, as Eric Asimov notes in his blog post, you also know that most people drink low-quality stuff. (This doesn't necessarily reflect wine prices. Plenty of fine, interesting bottles cost $10, but most people will buy the $10 American Chardonnay instead.)
Even when presented with lots of choices, parents won't necessarily pick for their children the best schools on offer. And some schools on offer may look nice but actually be places when learning goes to die.??The consequences of attending such a school are far worse than a distasteful sip. Which is why standards in the k-12 educational arena are so important--because quality counts for so much.