Rethinking Regulation - EdChoice
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Research

  • May 22 2018

Rethinking Regulation

By Michael Q. McShane

The red tape K–12 educators must endure is something of a running joke in the U.S.—a status quo many see as tragically bureaucratic and unchangeable. As more and more cities and states diversify the schooling options available to families, educational choice markets, too, need to become a part of the regulation conversation. In this report, Mike McShane examines the regulatory process and historical justifications for regulation to lay a groundwork for his four-step solution for reforming how K–12 education is regulated today.

To listen to McShane discuss his report on the EdChats podcast, click here.

What Will I Learn? Download Report

In this report, you will learn:

  • 1

    Understanding why government has regulated markets historically is important to understanding whether education needs more or less of it.

    There are nine justifications that merit mention, as they are often offered by observers of education policy as reasons to regulate traditional public schools or educational choice programs: control of monopoly power, compensating for spillovers (externalities), inadequate information, unequal bargaining power, moral hazard, paternalism, scarcity, cream skimming and excessive competition.
  • 2

    Before you can reform regulations, you have to understand two processes.

    The vast majority of regulations emerge during a rulemaking process; that is, after laws are passed but before policies are created. It’s important to understand the distinctions between laws, rules and policies, including who is involved in creating each. This report breaks down two main processes: standard setting and individualized screening.
  • 3

    There are four steps lawmakers can take to optimize regulation of K–12 education.

    The author posits that there are four steps regulators can take to improve the regulatory environment surrounding K–12 education: reforming the standard-setting process, focusing on the worst actors, putting carrots before sticks and respecting the hidden benefits of innovation. This short description is an oversimplification of his specific recommendations, so we encourage users to read the full report.
  • 4

    Reducing ineffective regulations for public educators should be just as important as protecting private education service providers from overregulation.

    “Often, advocates of traditional public schools argue that if they were freed from the same regulations that charter schools are, they would be able to perform just as well as they do. They deserve a chance to prove themselves right. If there are needless or duplicative regulations on traditional public schools that prevent them from meeting kids’ needs, everyone should cheer their deletion. Too often choice supporters and choice opponents are pitted against each other in these legislative and regulatory battles; they don’t have to be.”

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