Learning as We Go: Why School Choice is Worth the Wait

Paul T. Hill
Hoover Institution Press
2010

Why haven’t school choice programs—especially charters and
vouchers—been the smashing success many of us expected? In this new book
(which was the subject, along with Paul Peterson’s new work on choice, of a recent Fordham event),
Paul Hill explains. For the most part, it was a matter of misplaced
assumptions, namely that choice would stimulate a “virtuous cycle” of
school improvement. Think flow chart: Schools of choice create
competition; parents vote with their feet and enroll their students in
such schools; public schools feel pressure to improve; entrepreneurs
create more new schools based on rising demand; new schools pay
“premiums” for better teachers; and so on. But there are numerous
realities, explains Hill, which throw a wrench in this circuit, none of
which should come as a surprise. Most notably, education systems are
“entrenched” in procedure, compliance, and employee protection, and
often debilitated by nonsensical state and district laws and policies.
But all is not lost, says Hill, and we certainly shouldn’t give up on
school choice. He provides several recommendations to fix these
problems, including “re-missioning” education toward continuous
improvement (via performance-based “portfolio-run” districts, a topic Hill has engaged with before). We agree; school choice is worth the wait—and the fight. You can buy the book here.

More By Author