Yesterday’s Washington Post op-ed page provided a glimpse of what education might look like in a decade if today’s efforts to reform public schools fail. Michael Gerson lauds the spread of choice and increasing chances that it could happen at scale. On the same page Eugene Robinson announces that Atlanta shows the folly of incentives linked to testing. Both op-eds want for nuance (although Gerson’s prose is sufficiently smoother and elevated to hide it better). But both pieces also give voice to what’s likely on the other side of a collapse of the current crop of reform efforts. It’s not a return to the old days of benign neglect where the money flowed pretty freely and consequences were scarce. Instead, it’s likely a return to a low-accountablity environment coupled with much more choice, and all in a more constrained fiscal environment. Based on what we know now from various policy experiments over the last few decades its hard to see that as a formula for widespread improvement. Rather, the system needs more choice but the system – and choice schools – also need more accountability. It’s not hard though to see how the politics of that shift would work given the steady expansion of choice and the resistance to measures that create consequential accountability within the public system. In other words, the writing is on the wall as well as yesterday’s Wash Post op-ed page.