Re: Paying for Schools (was: SOCIETY: Re: The privatization of public security)

From: James Rogers (
Date: Wed Aug 22 2001 - 12:03:54 MDT

On 8/22/01 8:35 AM, "Zero Powers" <> wrote:
> I'm no fan of public education. Particularly the LAUSD and I'd rather eat
> worms than send my kids to public school in L.A. But there is a *large*
> segment of society that cannot afford to pay for the education of their
> kids. If public school education were to be suddenly eliminated... well,
> that would be the equivolent of saying "let them eat cake."

Last time this topic came up, I started reading up on the history of
education in the U.S. and basically came to the conclusion that public
education is a bad idea. The nice part is that we have a fair amount of
historical data to prove it, since the very first state to adopt public
education was Massachusetts in 1850 and there are lots of good records
preceding that for at least a century.

As Alexis de Tocqueville noted many times, the early Americans were probably
the most literate and best educated people in the world at that time, that
the average hard-working American was frequently as well-educated as the
upper class in most parts of Europe. While the deep frontier only had a
literacy rate of around 65%, virtually all the settled regions had literacy
rates in excess of 90%. In some locales, literacy rates were in the 98-99%
range. It is ironic that the first state to adopt public education,
Massachusetts, has a lower literacy rate today than when they had when they
adopted public education in the middle of the 19th century.

When private schools were the only option, there was fierce competition that
made high-quality cheap education available to essentially everyone. The
market accommodated every level of society, from the very rich to the very
poor, such that no one missed out on an education by the lack of resources.
Education was viewed as an essential social good, but society supported this
through the private market rather than through public institutions. The
problems started when the states decided that public education was a good
idea. Because the "free" education was subsidized with taxes, the vast
majority of private schools at all levels of the market went bankrupt within
a decade of the adoption of public education. In virtually every case, the
adoption of public education was followed by a rapid drop in literacy rates
and education in general, drops that in many cases have persisted to this

After doing some research a while back, I basically went from agnostic to
being firmly in the anti-public school camp. The track record of public
education in this country has been disasterous for the most part, but the
problem is that so many people are used to sucking off the government teat
that they are unwilling to exercise their right to something better.

-James Rogers

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