Choice, Information, and Charming Featherheads

US Edwonk Chester Finn visited Australia recently. Here are a few snippets from his letter from Oz.

On one key issue, however, the parties are converging: Both now favor some sort of national academic standards, tests, and curriculum. (See here.) Exactly how and by whom this will be operationalized is not yet clear. As in America, nobody wants the federal education department to take direct charge of such sensitive matters. …

In return for government aid, Australian private schools employ state-licensed teachers and teach the core state curriculum–whether sensible or loopy–though they can augment it with religious education and other subjects. If and when a national curriculum comes about, the private schools will doubtless teach and test their pupils accordingly. Nobody I met seemed to find this too heavy a price to pay for public dollars. Besides being fiscally viable and popular with parents, the private sector is generally invited inside the tents where policy issues that affect it, such as curriculum, testing, and teacher qualifications, get hashed out.

Though impressed by how much progress has been made Down Under on the school choice front, I was jarred by how little information is available on school performance. The education establishment has drawn a line at making comparisons among schools–or states–and Australia generally keeps its school-level results hidden from parents, journalists, and politicians to a degree that seems antediluvian and faintly undemocratic to an American. What’s the point, one wonders, of a national curriculum if nobody knows which schools are teaching it effectively? …

Though the over-40 generation is generally well-educated in a traditional sort of way, I met my share of charming featherheads among those under 30.

As a 34 year-old who met Chester during his visit, I’m not quite sure what to make of this last para.

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3 Responses to Choice, Information, and Charming Featherheads

  1. Sacha says:

    Not to worry Andrew, he didn’t say anything about those between 30-40.

  2. Patrick says:

    That you aren’t charming?

  3. ChrisPer says:

    Of course you should read it as allowing you all the compliments and none of the put-downs.

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