Thursday, July 24, 2014

Voucher wars, continued

I see that there has been push back against the article in Slate that claimed the education voucher system had turned into a failure in Sweden.

True, I would have assumed that there were more private schools there than is apparently the case, but the argument put forward that it is really due to "radically new pedagogical methods" cops a bit of a pasting in one of the comments (by Damien) that follow the post:
Pedagogical innovation was specifically mentioned as a great feature brought about by school choice. E.g.: - /free_school_reforms_in_sweden_boost_quality_innovation_and_choice.html : Swedish schools free to adopt innovative pedagogical methods. - : “The lack of choice created a lack of innovation regarding pedagogical concept and ways of learning adapted to different students’ needs”, “almost half of the independent schools differ more or less radically from public schools regarding pedagogical concept and methods to fulfill the curriculum.”, “The educational results data speak for themselves.” - : “The variety of independent schools is large in both ownership and in innovative pedagogy and practice” - : “The variety of independent schools is large in both ownership – from parental cooperatives to corporate chains — and in innovative pedagogy and practice”

But, now that it seems that there are problems in Sweden, it turns out that it was all an illusion and that schools really don’t have that much autonomy. And that new pedagogical ideas are harmful anyway. So you can use the pedagogical innovation in Sweden to sell school choice, but, if it turns out that test scores are not so good, you can *also* blame pedagogical innovation. That’s a bit too convenient. Heads I win, tails you lose.
 As the person who comments next says:
But, of course, that kind of analysis is no fun for internet commenters.
I don't think anyone in comments addresses the point I made in my original post:  from what little I have heard, the system in Finland is the complete opposite of a voucher system.  Are free marketeers just hoping that its example of success is ignored? 

Update:  I see another post critical of the Slate article mentions Finland.  But the article is from Cato, and I would want someone who knows the issue well to go through it with a fine tooth comb before trusting anything it claims.  For one thing - he claims Finland is not doing all that well.   Yet, surely the point is the improvements the country has made over time, and the philosophy they followed to get there.  


nottrampis said...

I looked at this when I commenced a Dip Ed but never finished.
Vouchers work IF transport is okay and there are no shonky ways of Schools getting rid of pupils who are 'underperformers'.
Unfortunately there are few places where this occurs.

It is marvelous theory but the real world contaminates it!

Steve said...

That sounds like a reasonable assessment, Homer.