RE: Paying for Schools (was: SOCIETY: Re: The privatization ofpublic security)

From: Lee Corbin (
Date: Wed Aug 22 2001 - 22:22:03 MDT

Steve Davies writes (on top of several outstanding posts by

> This is true for other countries as well as the US - plenty of work on the
> British case for example. Here we have just officially confirmed that the
> under 35s have a lower standard of literacy than was the case before WW I!
> On a slightly different point, bearing in mind the nature of this list, is
> nobody else struck by how backward education is and lacking in innovation
> compared to other areas of life?

Absolutely. And the reason is that the free market has not
been allowed to work its magic. I wrote in another thread
about how supermarket managers have an incentive to think
all day long (and possibly even after they retire) of ways
to improve their stores. I think that it would take less
than twenty years to see an absolutely unprecedented boom
in the quality of education were principals and administrators
lying awake at night thinking about how to lure students and
their parents to their schools, and what particular "angle"
they could work on, how they could specialize, how they indeed
could identify some unserviced element of the population that
they could exploit.

(Yes, sorry about the word "exploit". I know what a number
of leftists will make of that!)

> I'm also struck by the way most people assume education
> [is the same thing as] schooling. Surely, with modern
> technology there must be more than one method of
> delivering education. It's like assuming there's
> only one possible kind of food store.

Exactly! By far the best way (and perhaps the only way) to
improve education is to restore free choice. Yes, I know,
"freedom" is a rather out-dated 18th century concept, and I
know that it won't be tried except as a last resort, but
the education situation is so dismal that even freedom is
worth giving a shot.


> Like James, I think state education is unbelievably bad
> at its purported task - a language school can teach most
> people conversational fluency in a foreign language in
> about 80 hours. Most British pupils can't manage anything
> like that after five years of secondary education.

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