Perhaps [we] should follow the examples of Texas, and equalize exam results across schools, thus ensuring no-one suffers from going to a bad school.This doesn't seem an accurate summary of the Texan system, which rather seems to guarantee college places to the top 10% of high school graduates from every school in addition to other forms of qualification. It also carries the following rider:
After a student is admitted, the university may review the student's high school records to determine if the student is prepared for college-level work. A student who needs additional preparation may be required to take a developmental, enrichment, or orientation course during the semester prior to the first semester of college.It is not clear whether success in the development course, if required, is a condition of subsequent entry but it would be reasonable if it were. It also ensures that good colleges are not forced at gunpoint to lower their standards.
Admission to a university does not guarantee acceptance into a particular college of study or department, however.
Richard Feynman observed that the purpose of education is to increase the differences between children. If two children enter the educational process, one with a natural aptitude for maths and one with an aptitude for languages, they would start with this small but undeveloped difference. An effective system would enhance their natural aptitudes, finding and developing the things they can do best at as individuals. They would therefore leave the education with their natural aptitudes developed and trained, and with greater differences between them than had initially existed.
This is desirable. Differences between people are good and should be developed, and admired. Educational systems should try to equip every child with basic tools, and help them find and develop areas in which they can excel.
Ways to try to open the possibilities of excellence to people in an unequal society are obvious, and indeed we had an educational system which did just that until the 1970s in England, and still does in N Ireland. In other words, a system based on excellence can always find ways to promote equality.
Systems based on equality seem in practice to be unable to obtain excellence, partly because they don't aim for it. Here's an example, from Chris' second post:
Equalizing grades across schools would help reduce differences between schools. Under the current system, parents have every incentive to seek out good schools. Under my system, this incentive is greatly blunted.1. Not true, the differences between schools would be the same. The consequences of these differences would be changed. The question of excellence simply doesn't enter into this thinking, and this creates a simple logical error.
Moreover, what incentive would bad schools then have to improve? Well, still some, because in practice any attempt to subvert the market itself becomes subverted. But survival for bad schools would be easier and they would continue to fail their pupils.
2. Trying to reduce parents' incentives to help with the education of their children - by making the parents powerless - is an awful ambition. What happens to us when we become powerless to affect outcomes? We become de-motivated, time-serving, disinterested. The logical end point for Chris' idea is a society in which everybody is forbidden from trying to improve anything at all, because different people will do so with differing results.
Nowhere in Chris' argument is the idea that the absolute quality of attainment is important. So long as every child is equally illiterate, illiteracy is fine. Parents must not be able to affect this equality of squalor.
Trying to increase equality without reference to any other factors will always just worsen a system for everyone who uses it. Equally, trying to increase excellence and giving parents choice improves things for everyone.