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Monday, November 10, 2008

Anarchist Worries That Our K-12 Schools Could Get Lots Worse

Morey Straus worries that government-monopoly K-12 schools have a lot of room to get even worse:
MS) Your test sucks. Even mainstream lib John Stossel has expressed doubts about the efficacy of vouchers, noting the likelihood that it would bring further entrenchment of the state into education. (MS
It's always nice to be reminded of the civility standards of the Radical Caucus triumvirs.

Stossel indeed rightly cautions about the potential dangers of government funding, but he nevertheless says "a voucher experiment is a good thing, and far superior to a government-run monopoly".  Even an anarcholibertarian like David Friedman has spoken favorably of vouchers as a way to start getting the government out of education -- where (bad news!) it's already completely entrenched.  For 89% of K-12 customers, the government already has total control of
  • service boundaries,
  • inter-district busing,
  • admissions policy,
  • capital spending decisions,
  • textbook selection,
  • curriculum standards, including treatment of creationism, the Bible, gay marriage, etc.
  • testing standards,
  • teacher hiring standards,
  • union rules,
  • prayer in school,
  • pledge of allegiance,
  • school uniforms,
  • religious calendar and observance,
  • zero-tolerance rules for toy weapons,
  • campus smoking,
  • drug testing,
  • PE requirements,
  • etc. etc.
With vouchers, the government's bureaucrats would have much less control over the education industry, and (if done right) not much more control over schools than food stamps gives them over grocery stores.  The first step is to get the federal government completely out of the education business, and then watch while government education keeps getting worse until some jurisdiction gets serious about trying vouchers.

Note that much of higher education in America is funded on a basis similar to vouchers, with much more intense competition for students among schools, and the result is that American higher education is the envy of the world.  Our K-12, not so much.