Can Allocation by Sortition Resolve the Connecticut Education-Financing Impasse?
Our aim here is to offer an analysis of the decision-making environment that explains the current impasse. We contend that by applying the dual-error framework popular in other social policy settings, it is possible to understand the competing views and beliefs of those groups arrayed in opposition. We claim that the individual and political understanding and policy responses are prone to cognitive heuristics in the manner popularized by Sunstein, Schadke and Kahneman, and Kuran and Sunstein (Kuran & Sunstein, 1999; Sunstein C. , Cognition and Cost-Benefit Analysis, 2000; Schkade & Kahneman, 1998). This analytical approach entails a recognition that many policy makers fail to make decisions via the normative model of rational decision-making but rather rely subjectively on emotion, intuitions, biases, character traits, and social and cultural norms in a manner that diverges systematically from the rational model. We argue that differing subjective appraisals of the role of individual agency in the observed achievement gap is at the core of the debate. There are, of course, other inputs into the educational process. But it is this perception of agency that heavily influences the general population’s political choices.
The existing institutional framework appears to have cemented this worldview in a situation that has little chance of a meaningful resolution. We note the perplexing conundrum in which Connecticut finds itself and conclude that the problem is a social dilemma in which the parties involved are individually powerless to resolve. Sortition mechanisms – allocation by lottery – have been known to effectively resolve social dilemmas in other domains. We examine the possibility of relying on lots to resolve the allocation of educational monies.
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