I don’t always agree with David Frum, in fact, I seldom do, but he’s dead-on with the diagnosis here:
Is it quite accurate to describe the DC schools as “dysfunctional”? Doesn’t that depend on what you take their true “function” actually to be? If you imagine that function to be educating the young, well yes obviously they are not very successful at that. But what if they have a very different function? What if their real function were to create employment and transfer wealth? At that, after all, they are extremely successful.
And this may explain why “reform” attempts so often fail. Reforms intended to improve the quality of education threaten to damage the schools’ ability to carry out their most fundamental mission: emplyment and enrichment.
If you still seriously believe that public schools are intended to provide children with an academic education, you simply aren’t paying enough attention.
Mass education is an outdated and inefficient concept. The corpse may twitch for another 50 years, but it’s already dead.