You’ll have to find a hard copy of the latest National Review to read why Reihan Salam and Tino Sanandaji believe conservatives must take seriously the notion of closing the educational achievement gap among different racial groups in public schools.

For the purposes of this entry, I have room only to note the role Salam and Sanandaji assign to reining in overly powerful teachers’ unions.

There is no question that liberals care as much about the plight of minorities as conservatives do. Their fault is not a lack of good intentions. Rather, it is coalition politics.

In Special Interest, Stanford political scientist Terry Moe offers an exhaustive account of the political influence of America’s 4 million unionized public-school teachers, and how it has been deployed to block education-reform efforts for the past few decades. Union leaders have thwarted attempts to deploy staff in a more efficient manner and to offer incentive-based compensation. Their solution to every problem in education is more money. And of course, any increase in resources is channeled toward either hiring more teachers, thus creating more loyal union members, or increasing compensation for teachers, ideally in a way tied to length of service and not quality of performance. …

… We know by now that increased funding will not miraculously close the achievement gap. We also know that there is no single recipe for improving educational outcomes for minority students. Reducing the influence of the teachers’ unions seems to be an important first step, as Texas’ experience suggests. Doing so gives schools the political breathing room they need to deploy their resources with the interests of students, as opposed to union leaders, foremost in mind.