As an economist, he was aware of Milton Friedman's proposal for school vouchers as a measure to increase competition. The proposal had been floated by 1969 but not implemented and Hirschman was dubious of its effectiveness. He compared it to the Big Three automakers, where "competition" wasn't really effective. He suggested that private schools would drain the public system of those parents who would fight for reform, so the public school establishment would be happy to see them go and would not react by improving their systems. From the Mathews article:
"Craig Jerald, a D.C.-based school achievement consultant who has watched KIPP's growth, said much of the response to the program has been tepid at best. He said Feinberg once told him that 'opening a KIPP school in every big city would embarrass or inspire urban districts to do better for their kids.The article also hints that KIPP may be having problems with maintenance as I blogged earlier. KIPP has succeeded in capturing the idealism and energy of the young, but the iron law of building is, the more you build, the more there is to maintain. Unfortunately, maintenance doesn't have the sex appeal of building.
'I think we all underestimated how dismissive these systems can be.'"