Improving America's Classrooms Through School Choice
by John Merrifield, Ph.D.
Problematic public school classroom conditions have survived decades of education reform efforts. With federal lawmakers considering reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act—and new state lawmakers pursuing different types of education reforms—it is worth reviewing the root causes of our school system’s ineffectiveness and the policy reforms that would eliminate those problems—for the benefit of educators and their students, alike.
- Weak, often poorly targeted, incentives for educator effectiveness and parental involvement.
- Classroom composition policies that minimize student engagement.
- High rates of out-of-subject-field teaching.
- The micro-management of professional educators.
- Teacher tenure, combined with high rates of teacher burnout.
- Misleading, boring curricula and textbooks.
- Discipline problems coupled with related regulation and lawsuit fear among educators.
“Compared with privately provided goods and services, perhaps the most fundamental market problem with publicly funded schools is to provide a uniform education that is satisfying to all families. How difficult would it be for automobile manufacturers, restaurants, hairdressers, and barbers to satisfy the majority, let alone all, of their clients with a single, uniform product or service?”