[EconTalk] Terry Moe on Educational Reform, Katrina, and Hidden Power

Terry Moe on Educational Reform, Katrina, and Hidden Power

09/12/2019 by EconTalk: Russ Roberts

Web player: https://podplayer.net/?id=89366117
Episode: http://files.libertyfund.org/econtalk/y2019/Moereform.mp3

Political Scientist and author Terry Moe of Stanford University talks about his book, The Politics of Institutional Reform with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Moe explores the politics and effectiveness of educational reform in the New Orleans public school system in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Moe finds that policy-makers turned to charter schools for pragmatic reasons and students enjoyed dramatic improvements in educational outcomes as a result. Moe uses this experience to draw lessons about political reforms generally and the power of vested interests to preserve the status quo in the absence of catastrophic events like Katrina.

Listen Date: 2020-02-07


The most interesting thing in this episode was the idea about the second face of power – that when power looks so entrenched, you don’t even have a power struggle because people fear they’ll lose. And because of this,the absence of visible opposition doesn’t mean that it isn’t there at all. And, connected to this, that Hurricane Katrina destroying the existing system meant that people who presented themselves as incrementalists could suddenly throw off the mask and reveal themselves as radicals; now that the certainty of losing was down to a risk of losing. Beyond this, the details themselves were trivial.

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