Making points for school choice and against top-down class size mandates

Several semi-related items in this posting regarding education issues:

1) Education reformer Michelle Rhee came up through the educational ranks considering herself a Democrat. I don’t know what she calls herself these days and it really doesn’t matter, but in this article, Rhee details her reasons for breaking with her party on the issue of education vouchers;

2) This article from the American Enterprise Institute found that Washington, DC’s voucher program produced $2.62 in benefits for every dollar it spent. Further, the program increased the high school graduation rate of students by 12 percent if they were lucky enough to win the annual scholarship lottery, which allowed students to choose from more than 60 private schools in the District participating in the program. More than 3,700 students won the scholarships and an estimated 421 extra students received their diplomas as a result of this program;

3) New Mexico’s educational struggles have been well-documented. We are consistently among the bottom five in a variety of education measures. The chilling thing about this is that even if our state moved into the middle tier in education results, we are still part of a nation that is trailing far behind its international peers.

4) A Constitutional Amendment (SJR2) has been introduced during the current legislative session by Sen. Tim Keller (one of the most thoughtful folks in Santa Fe regardless of party affiliation) to limit class sizes. This is unfortunate legislation has an estimated price tag of $610 million over three years. the evidence is inconclusive when it comes to academic outcomes and the preponderance of evidence is that it is not worth the high cost.

Even more importantly, this legislation flies right in the face of educational innovations, like blended learning, that allow for educational improvements and increased efficiency in terms of teacher/student ratios.