"The empirical evidence is mounting," Stuart Wells stated, "that when given the choice, more middle class, better educated, and white parents pay more attention to the status and backgrounds of the other children in the schools they are choosing than they do to ?objective' measures of school quality. Research, Stuart Wells continued, also reveals that neo-liberal reforms in education are not providing greater achievement. "Even if we were willing to forego ?equity' for the sake of ?excellence' in terms of the recent wave of deregulatory reforms in education, we are not yet seeing any strong and consistent findings in the research literature that the invisible hand of the market is increasing student achievement overall."
Stuart Wells concluded, "My point here is that the empirical evidence to date-when looked at in aggregate-provides virtually no support for continuing down the path of deregulatory free-market policies in education."
In her third and final Sachs Lecture, Amy Stuart Wells, Professor of Educational Policy at UCLA, spoke about "Lessons from Free Market Reforms of the 1990s: The Need to Bring Equity Back into Educational Policy Debates." In her opening remarks, she said, "My hope is that by the end of my three Sachs lectures, I will have adequately conveyed the need for a new policy discourse about the role and possibility of public education in a democratic society."
In discussing the focus of her third lecture, Stuart Wells added, "I want to examine the relationships between our age-old resistance to the ideal of the common school and redistributive, equity-based policies in education, and a neo-liberal, free market ideology that, in the last decade in particular, seems to have reshaped our understanding of what is politically possible."