Today's topic on Duncan Green's FP2P is the private vs. public school debate in development. Sandefur's argument is for privatization of education, because public schooling "is not translating into learning", it's cheaper and produces better results.
I am looking forward to having a bit more knowledge about this long-running debate in order to be able to frame it better. However, what does stand out is his criticism of the validity of the MDGs: cattle-herding students into schools "...is not an end in and of itself. And the push for universal primary school enrollment has been an abject failure in terms of what really matters — learning." Hence his sarcasm as he presents "the following challenging reading passage from Kenya’s public school curriculum", which only half of Kenyan 3rd graders can read.
A statement that is striking and worrying - but also emotional. I wish Sandefur had delved a little deeper. He largely ignores the why's of the story to pursue his argument, only condemning the frequent teacher absences. Looking at the Uwezo article (http://bit.ly/OFycrJ), a lot of students can't see the board properly. When I was teaching in Tanzania, the issue was also that students weren't getting any food and their stomach was occupying more attention than their mind.
Echoing a Kenyan commenter: "I wish the debate would center on how to improve our public schools. We get enough funding and were it not for corruption and poor planning, our public schools would still be a force to reckon with."
Bottom line: you gotta keep things in perspective.
Tomorrow's response should prove interesting!