Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Yglesias: We Should Be Making Policy Decisions on Ignorance and Personal Biases

Matt Yglesias,
Whenever you propose trying to measure anything in education, people come out of the woodwork to point out that there are some flaws in almost any measurement system you can devise. This is true enough, but the current practice of simply not measuring whether or not training programs improve teacher performance is even worse. 
This is laughably absurd. Yglesias is arguing that we engage in data collection and analysis and  then that we use that analysis to shape teacher training programs. But he's also arguing that we shouldn't care if we're measuring anything worthwhile at all or if we're measuring accurately but those measurements should still be used to "evaluate" teacher training programs, shape curriculum and, presumably, direct funding.

Can you imagine Matt Yglesias making this argument about any other policy issue? In what other area of public policy would he be arguing that evidence, facts and rational decision are secondary considerations? Why even go through the motions of pretending to gather data? We should just make all of our policy decisions based on ignorance and our personal biases. If it snows in the winter that means climate change is a hoax.

Vacuous seems too polite of a word, no?

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