Discuss Amongst Yourselves: Hess on "New Normal," Petrilli on "Parenting Gap"

Update, 11/9: Peter Meyer has provided a great response to Petrilli’s piece. In the end, I don’t think the two are that far apart in their views on this. But it’s an important conversation to join.

It’s a “discuss-amongst-yourselves” Tuesday in little Eddie’s world. Fortunately, I have two terrific, thought-provoking articles to share. Without further ado, please feast your minds on these:

  1. American Enterprise Institute education policy guru Rick Hess lays out a clear and concise case about the “new normal” facing most local public school agencies across the nation — as the decades-long trend of rising per-pupil expenditures and shrinking class sizes has given way to a period of flat budgets and modest spending cuts that he says should last for at least another five years. My Education Policy Center friend Ben DeGrow made a similar case for our state following the resounding “No” Colorado voters gave to the tax-raising Prop 103 last week.
  2. Writing at National Review, the Fordham Institute’s Mike Petrilli raises the question of closing the “good parenting gap” to help improve student learning, a question that poses a challenge for many policy wonks. Petrilli states his argument with a much appreciated, strong and healthy skepticism of government’s role, noting: “The broader/bolder types are right when they say that a lot of what influences student achievement happens outside of schools, and before kids ever step foot in kindergarten. Where they are wrong, I believe, is in thinking that turbo-charged government programs can compensate for the real challenge: what’s happening inside the home.”

So there you have it, my friends. Two of the smarter minds on education policy writing about issues and trends of increasing relevance. It’s a good humbling reminder to my friends in the policy world that the resources available to effect change are scarce, and that there are important factors beyond the reach and control of laws and regulations. Perhaps you can even say you read about one or both of these thought-provoking commentaries here first.