The State as Educator, Part 4 to blupete's Essay
"Education & The Voucher System"
Though it might have been advanced at a time when a one room school house and a teacher would do for an entire community, the argument that government can deliver and administer education in a cost efficient manner, drops these days, in the face of contrary evidence, like a lead weight into the sea. The only argument to be addressed is that a government run education system allows for all citizens through the "democratic process" to have a say in the education of the young. If citizens have a way of having a say as to how the government school system is being run, then they are hardly using it. But my point is this - the existing system, whatever its human design may have provided, as anyone can see who has had the slightest involvement with it, is run by a few bureaucratic experts who cave in to those who scream the loudest. (My sympathies, believe me, lie entirely with the haggard school administrators.) The only real democratic system is the free market system, as I will soon attempt to illustrate.
The government school system, I submit, is run, not by the public, but by bureaucrats who, as is their nature, are continually trying to seek a consensus. Thus, we now see a most serious defect as does exist in all government enterprises: that which does get done, gets done, because it has been watered down to the lowest common denominator. Ultimately, in such a system as we now have in the government school system, what is fed to all - is pap: it is fed to the public, it is fed to the teachers, it is fed to the parents and it is fed to the students. And, thus, all that we might expect of our government school system is "pappy output" - and that, only when it works: when it does not work (being more often the case I suspect) it becomes a Carrollian sink-hole into which our money and our students disappear.
"Imagine that you're either the referee, coach, player, or spectator at an unconventional soccer match: the field for the game is round; there are several goals scattered haphazardly around the circular field; people can enter and leave the game whenever they want to; they can throw balls in whenever they want; they can say "that's my goal" whenever they want to, as many times as they want to, and for as many goals as they want to; the entire game takes place on a sloped field; and the game is played as if it makes sense...I ask my question again: now, while it maybe that the state has an interest in seeing that there does exist a mechanism for the education of the young, how is it that this interest extends to making the giving of an education a governmental function? Is it that schools would not exist if government did not build and run them? Do we have grocery stores? Do we have churches? Do we not, indeed, today, have private schools; even in the face of 100% subsidized government schools? (More on this later.) School legislation may be required to set and test standards, but more than that is not needed. That it is costly to give government a mandate to run schools is evident, but worse yet; it is harmful, in that it prevents the full flowering of good educational institutions; and, further, it leads unsuspecting parents, who might otherwise do something about the sorry situation, into thinking their children are getting an education.
If you now substitute in that example principals for referees, teachers for coaches, students for players, parents for spectators, and schooling for soccer, you have an equally unconventional depiction of school organizations." [Wm. Foster, Paradigms and Promises (Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus, 1986) at pp. 129-130.]
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
[Essays, First Series]
[Essays, Second Series]
[Essays, Third Series]
[Essays, Fourth Series]