The One Way to Really Fix Education (That No One Wants to Hear)

The post title is a dig–probably an unfair one–and refers to Peter Marber’s recent post, “The four ways to really fix education (that no one wants to hear).” It’s not bad, and I agree with his suggestion to eliminate property tax-based public education (though the lengthy school year always puzzles me–for reasons that will become obvious).

But I have one way to really fix education. Regular readers can probably guess what it is:

Copy Massachusetts’ system.

Really. It’s not that Massachusetts is perfect: a notable shortcoming is the relative lack of gifted-and-talented programs*. Like everywhere in the U.S., there are disparities based on class and race. But, when you examine the NAEP data since the late 1990s (after Massachusetts’ education overhaul), in every socioeconomic group, Massachusetts always ranks high. I don’t disagree with eliminating property tax-based public education, since a cornerstone of Massachusetts’ education system is a relatively redistributive system (it’s not great but it beats most states hands down). On the other hand, Massachusetts has a short school year, and black students in Massachusetts tie Finnish students on the TIMSS test (Blessed Finland!), so maybe the school year isn’t the critical thing.

I have never understood why other states simply don’t copy what Massachusetts does. We won’t sue you, promise.

*I don’t mean this in the sense of “my kid is nice and smart”, but the top one percent or so.

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