Want To Reform Public Education?nBy now it should be obvious that “education reform” is anfraud. Its primary goal has not been to rescue childrennfrom public school malpractice, but to rescue the schoolsnfrom angry parents and taxpayers.nThe 1980’s saw per-pupil spending climb by aboutnone-third beyond inflation, almost entirely for doing more ofnthe same rather than for basic changes such as decentralization.nIt’s as if we had “reformed” the Pentagon by pumpingnmore money into $400 toilet seats. Not surprisingly, testnscores barely budged. The national average on the ScholasticnAptitude Test actually fell during the late 1980’s — thenvery period when the supposed “reforms” were takingneffect.nSo we now have the results of a decade-long experiment:ncan federal education programs promote genuine excellence?nThose in the Reagan administration who said “No”nfrom the start, including myself, decisively lost the in-housenpower struggle. The winners were the bureaucraticnapparatchiki such as Terrel Bell and the neoconservativenLawrence A. Uzzell is a media fellow at the HoovernInstitution at Stanford University.n26/CHRONICLESnFirst De-fund the Department of Ed.nby Lawrence A. Uzzellnnnclimbers such as William Bennett.nTen years ago the neocons seemed to have more inncommon with traditional conservatives than with thenapparatchiki. After they took power their rhetoric continuednto be conservative, but their actions changed: Bell andnBennett ended up with few real policy differences. Neitherndid more than the bare minimum for vouchers or tuition taxncredits. Neither made the case that federal educationnprograms should be pulverized not just because they costntoo much but because they are bad for education.nBennett gave brilliant speeches against the decadentnpolicies of Stanford University and the National EducationnAssociation, but he failed to combine those speeches withnconcrete changes in the one bastion of decadence under hisnown supervision. He did not achieve a single major reformnin the department’s programs, budget, or regulations; henand Bell left behind a bureaucracy that still operates innpretty much the same way as when Jimmy Carter left office.nNow as then, its net effect is to make schools worse.nOne of the “discoveries” of contemporary social sciencenresearch, confirming what observers with common sensenknew all along, is that certain elements are crucial ton