Friday, February 3, 2012

3/2/2012: De Kaufman Door 1

Kaufman Foundation - a research centre for studying entrepreneurship - runs quarterly reports on the panel of economics bloggers. These reports contain some brilliant insights into the cutting edge policies as well as some reaffirmations of orthodoxies.

Here's the one I liked in the current Q1 2012 issue:

So let's run through these in the context of the latest conceptual reforms ideas floating in the Irish education system:

  • Voucher system - 76% of bloggers are in favor and 11% opposing (remember - these responses come from the Left, Right, Libertarian, professional, academic etc economists). In Ireland, of course the idea of parental choice is anathema to the Department of Education and the rest of the crowd that is setting the education agenda.
  • Charter schools (characterized by greater independence, more parental engagement in all aspects of schooling etc) - 74% of bloggers agree, 11% disagree. In Ireland - calls to shut down independent schools abound and new non-state schools are having problems getting teachers funds.
  • Teacher choice - 59% in favor, 19% opposed - less decisive vote, but the idea would be a total 'No go' for Ireland.
  • Flexibility for principals - 9% opposed, 81% in favor. Not the flavor of the month for the DofE or the rest of the education policy pack.
  • Higher teacher pay overall gets 10% opposition and 53% support, but merit pay for teachers idea gets 9% opposition and 74% support. Which of course will never ever take hold in Ireland.
  • Transparency for value-added gets 8% opposition and 71% support. Do note the emerging clear theme - accountability and independence are valued, merit to be rewarded... oh, no, these are not happening here in Ireland.
  • Higher standards - 30% oppose, 33% support because, presumably, it is hard to really define or trust 'standards'. 
  • Greater federal involvement gets support from 12% of respondents and is opposed by 59%, while less federal involvement gets support from 57% and opposition from 18%. Well, now, I am not exactly an education specialist, but I did notice as of late that Irish debate about the secondary education has distinctly taken an anti-private schools turn. And there are pretty powerful voices here calling for nationalization of secondary education. Hmmm...
Of course, the above policy options are not exhaustive nor comprehensive. And yes, there are big differences between the US and Irish systems. But it is pretty clear to me that the above preferences expressed by US economics bloggers for more transparency, more accountability, more independence in the education system run diametrically counter to the prevailing ideology surrounding education reforms in Ireland today.

1 comment:

bcronin said...

The "education" debate in Ireland has only taken an anti-private schools turn because of the uniquely Irish situation whereby private fee paying schools also get their teachers funded by the state on more or less the same basis as schools in the "free system" and could (up to 2010) draw down capital grants for school buildings and improvements. I have worked in the fee paying schools and in the non fee paying, and I can tell you that fee paying schools enjoy far superior facilities and having their basic teacher allocation funded by the state, they can use fee income to employ additional teachers and thus offer greater subject choice. This is not a level playing field. I'm with you on most things, Constantin and I enjoy your blog. On this one, however, you don't seem to know what you are talking about. By the way, in most of Ireland, the voucher system would make no difference as there is usually only one or two schools to choose from. Secondly, schools in Ireland can use "ethos" to turn away prospective students, which happens in over-subscribed schools.