Dear Commons Community,
It must be a poor news day for The Chronicle of Higher Education to be citing a report recently released by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Long-known as one of the most conservative, neoliberal think tanks in the country, nobody except other right-conservatives take AEI seriously. AEI receives extensive funding from the likes of the ultraconservative Scaife and Koch families. The study, entitled: “Quality Assurance in Other Sectors: Lessons for Higher Education Reformers” by Kevin J. James lays out lessons from four industries—health care, job training, charter schools, and housing finance—that could inform efforts to improve the quality of higher education. With reference to charter schools, here is an excerpt from the Executive Summary.
“The most fundamental lesson that emerges from the charter sector is that building a parallel path for market entry can fundamentally change the supply side of a quasi-market such as higher education. Charter schools did not emerge from a complete overhaul of public schooling. Instead, they emerged because policymakers created space for new schools whose leaders were willing to be held accountable for student outcomes. Likewise, in higher education, reforming the accreditation process directly will be a long and difficult road. But that should not prevent policymakers from creating space for promising organizations that are willing to be held accountable for their student outcomes.”
Charter school in many parts of the country have had modest gains at best and undermine the funding of public schools. In many cases, they also “cream” the better students from the public schools.
If The Chronicle must report on materials produced from organizations such as AEI, it should do so with a big asterisk indicating that it represents a completely partisan viewpoint.