Researchers ‘prove’ Brighton school-lottery has failed

School place lottery ‘did not improve access for poor’

A controversial lottery system for secondary school places has failed in one of its key aims – to give poorer children equal access to top schools, academics say.

(according to a BBC news item today http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-11162313)

A paper, “The early impact of Brighton and Hove’s school admission reforms” from CMPO Bristol, is being publicised as showing that the lottery has failed in its aim of reducing social segregation. You can read the full version of this paper at www.bristol.ac.uk/cmpo/publications/papers/2010/wp244.pdf.

The lottery is innocent! As researchers around the world have found, give parents the choice, and some (mostly middle-class) will eagerly seek out the ‘best’ schools. The others, the poor, the huddled masses will prefer their local schools (or more likely, be pestered by their kids to go to the local school with their mates.

It is ‘choice’ not lottery that does this. Lots more about this in my book, Lotteries for Education!

Joe Klein: Deliberative poll for budget policy

Joe Klein, Time columnist and “living incarnation of American ‘conventional wisdom’“, proposes to replace Obama’s budget commission with a Fishkin Deliberative Poll. Klein sees the DP as

a magical contraption that could take the process of making tough decisions in a democracy, shake it up, dramatize it and make it both credible and conclusive[,]

and concludes with an odd mixture of platitudes and populism:

I’ll bet the kleroterion would produce results bolder and more credible than anything Obama’s commission will recommend. “People are tired of the elites telling them what to do,” says Fishkin. Perhaps it’s time to turn that process upside down.

(It is not quite clear, however, how Klein’s proposal allows the people to tell the elites what to do, given that he is proposing advisory powers only.)