“Research Based” Economic Policy?

Over on the Education Policy Blog, Aaron Schutz has written an interesting critique of the assumption that a more educated workforce creates a stronger economy, as more educated people create more and better jobs. He finds little evidence for these assumptions.

His post reminded me of this NYT article coming at similar questions from a different direction, in which the author argues that there is little evidence for trickle-down theories of economics in either labor market patterns or wages.

In education, we have become used to hearing that our work must be “research based”.

Yet we are required to continue to flog the children of unemployed or underemployed parents into scoring higher on their many tests, promising as we do that this is all in their best interest, that all that stands between them and economic stability that they have never known as children is their willingness to work hard in school.

And we are expected to continue to teach these kids in woefully underfunded schools, because to raise taxes for books, computers, teacher salaries, or school repairs would inevitably harm the economy.

Yet there is precious little evidence that any of this will ultimately narrow the growing chasms between the “haves” and the “have nots”.

Educational accountability cannot substitute for other social safety nets.

That’s research-based.

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