Hoover Rates 2011 Best and Worst in Education

Published December 28, 2011

The best education development in 2011 was a school choice “reinvigoration” through vouchers and opportunity scholarships, and the worst was misreporting of the Atlanta cheating scandal that excused guilty teachers and administrators, says a report from Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.

“American education is certainly not living up to its potential,” said Williamson Evers, a Hoover research fellow and the report’s coordinator. “We’re one of the highest spenders among the industrialized countries of the world and we’re mediocre in our performance.”

Hoover released the second annual “Best and Worst in American Education” report, compiled by the 11 members of its Koret Task Force on K-12 Education. They propose, debate, and vote to rank the top five positive and negative developments in education each year, aiming to inform the public and shape education reform.

More School Choice than Ever
More school choice programs were introduced or expanded in 2011 than in any previous year. The “revival of the almost dead DC program” was particularly notable, Evers said.

“Reauthorization will continue to allow students to leave some of the nation’s lowest-performing public schools,” said Virginia Walden Ford, founder of DC Parents for School Choice. “Expanded school choice programs around the nation” will allow students to improve their achievement in “schools that meet their needs.”

Indiana implemented the nation’s largest voucher program, limited collective bargaining, and lifted its charter school cap.

“States that are truly successful look at all aspects of education to move forward,” said Leslie Hiner, a vice president at Indiana’s Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. She praised state legislators for their “child-centered” attitude.

Need for Continued Reform
Negative events demonstrated the need for continued reform, Evers said.

“The [Atlanta] scandal itself was horrendous, but also the news media excused it,” he said. “That was troubling, because people will do this again.”

The 2012 presidential elections will offer “a national stage on which to debate education policy,” said taskforce chairman Chester Finn Jr.


Internet Info:
“Best and Worst in American Education in 2011,” Hoover Institution, December 2011. http://www.hoover.org/taskforces/education/best-and-worst-of-2011


Hoover Institution’s Best and Worst in Education, 2011

Best Five:

  1. Reinvigoration of school choice via opportunity scholarships and vouchers.
  2. Rollback of collective bargaining agreements in Wisconsin, Indiana, New Jersey, Idaho, and (temporarily) Ohio.
  3. The California State Board of Education’s rules allowing implementation of the Parent Trigger.
  4. Former DC chancellor Michelle Rhee’s teacher-evaluation system left in place by new Mayor Vincent Gray without substantial change.
  5. Indiana’s overall record of education reform.


Worst Five:

  1. The Atlanta cheating scandal.
  2. Bungling of reauthorization of No Child Left Behind by a slowpoke Congress and a Constitution-oblivious president.
  3. Postponement and delay of reform promises by Race to the Top-winning states and weak oversight by the Obama administration.
  4. Gov. Jerry Brown (D) moving California from bad to worse.
  5. The unions’ Ohio victory in overturning Gov. John Kasich’s (R) collective bargaining reforms.

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