If we cannot agree on the ultimate goals of an education system, there is little hope that we can agree on a reform policy.
School choice proponents share a recognition that the institution of public schooling is not living up to our ideals of public education. Despite that shared recognition, we champion a diverse and sometimes conflicting set of policies. The purpose of this paper is to improve the movement's prospects for success by identifying our precise points of disagreement, and beginning to work through them.
Tulo be sure that all the root causes of disagreement are uncovered, the following sections methodically lay out the entire process of selecting a reform policy from start to finish. Section one addresses the ultimate goals of reform, section two contrasts different strategies for designing reform policies, section three asks how and where we can look for a model school system that fulfills the goals of section one, section four applies the conclusions of section three and identifies a model school system toward which we should arguably work, and section five asks which real-world policies most closely approach that model school system. Conclusions and recommendations follow.
At each branching point in this decision tree, the author argues in favor of a particular choice. This succession of discrete choices should bring greater clarity and specificity to the disagreements that plague the school choice community. By isolating the specific points in the reform selection process at which we diverge, we can more easily debate the evidence on those individual points, and hopefully resolve some, or even many, of our differences.
So, as you read the pages that follow, be sure to make generous use of your red pens to highlight any assertions with which you disagree, and please feel free share your own views on those points with other recipients of this document.