Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

A Matter of Mindset

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

A Matter of Mindset

Article excerpt

In my mind, airline efficiency has long been an oxymoron. And I know I'm not alone. I've received plenty of support for that view from fellow travelers who've shared my impatience over delayed flights, missed connections, and misdirected (if not permanently misplaced) luggage.

Just ask any American whether deregulation has made air travel easier, better, or safer in the last 15 years. The negative response is likely to make your ears ring. We've grown tired of predawn departures, peanuts for lunch, and pressures to spend precious weekends in hotels far from home (because fares are lower on trips that include Saturday stayovers). We've listened to the litany of carriers that've gone belly up or been taken over by others. And we know in our bones that something's badly awry with our airlines.

So Paul Sheehan's article - "What Went Right" - in the August Atlantic comes as a shock. Sheehan blames widespread doubts about the wisdom of deregulating the airlines on "a media culture that cleaves almost pathologically to discord." Then he cites research data to disprove several myths about air travel that we Americans have been accepting as fact, among them that air fares have gone up while service has been cut back and aircraft safety has declined. Sheehan's general conclusion, based on empirical evidence, is that the airline industry is performing much better today than it would be if it were still regulated.

It is impossible not to see a parallel between Sheehan's defense of the airlines and Gerald Bracey's defense of the public schools. Like its predecessors, the Third Bracey Report, which appears in this issue, relies on empirical evidence to paint a picture of the condition of American education. …

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