To tutor, or not to tutor . . .

Bush’s No Child Left Behind policy is admirable for trying to force schools to be accountable for results. Like most efforts to get government entities to focus on outcomes rather than how hard everyone is trying, it has its problems. Lisa Snell dug into how schools report violence and crime and test score results under NCLB, and no surprise, found plenty of cheating. NPR this morning did a story discussing how NCLB provides funds for low-income kids in crappy schools to get tutoring, and looked at questions about how well the money is being used. They began looking at the boom at Sylvan Learning Centers, which from all I have seen do a fantastic job of helping kids who have trouble learning. But, of course, the story soon slipped into a discussion of how all the federal money and relatively little regulation of tutoring services has led to “a wild-west atmosphere.” Members of Congress are criticizing states for not bet tight with controlling the tutoring business, etc. No discussion of where the decision point is here. It is not the schools or the state that puts these kids in tutoring, it is the parents. They are in a pretty good position to look at their kids grades and test scores and see if the tutoring is working. They don’t get any other benifit for sending their kids there, so they likely take a real interest in the result. (Snell looks at tutorings role in kid’s reading performance here.) I wish Congress would take as much interst in creating real consequences for school officials that cheat on statistics reported to parents as they do in slavering over discovering a type of business they haven’t got their regulatory hooks into yet.

Adrian Moore

Adrian Moore, Ph.D., is vice president of policy at Reason Foundation, a non-profit think tank advancing free minds and free markets.