Way to Better Education is to Give Parents, Kids Choice

Published November 14, 2010

I was intrigued by Ruth Bettelheim’s column “With assembly line approach, public schools fail our kids.” It was an informative piece that raised two very important issues (The Forum, Wednesday).
First, America’s educational supremacy relative to other nations occurred during the heyday of the “traditional” education she seems to criticize. Our decline started immediately upon adopting what is called “progressive” education. This provides evidence that there probably is a place for the traditional classroom.

Second, Bettelheim’s advocacy of “individualized, self-directed” learning is warranted. It is an important and necessary innovation. However, your readers need to know that this vision can never be realized in today’s bureaucracy-based, union-driven education industry. The only way to truly “individualize” education is to have the money follow the child to a large network of independent, dynamic, content providers. Either way, the time has come to empower parents and increase educational choices. This can’t be achieved under the current model.

Bruno Behrend, director

Center for School Reform, The Heartland Institute