Schools and markets again

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I’m pleased and flattered to have my last post on this subject listed in Apollo’s October Top Ten – thanks. Meanwhile, I’ve been jousting with Bishop Hill in the comments section of my last post. He’s been giving me a run for my money, although I’m not at all convinced. We’re coming from two distinct positions: ultimately, he contends that the education of children is the business of parents and parents alone, while I regard it as a public good (while not disregarding the fact that generally parents – and children – are the best judge of what’s right for them). I don’t think he’s thought that one through (if he’s right, we should just save the government a bundle of money and stop public funding for education altogether).

Mary Reid cites an interesting local example of the problems of the government’s proposals.

I suppose my concerns with the government’s proposals, and of markets in education in general, can be summed up this way: the government want to see a market in education, regulated and tempered by national government. I would like to see a market in education, regulated and tempered by local government. And that local government needs to be genuine government, not simply administration, in other words:

  • political autonomy;
  • financial autonomy;
  • genuinely representative via a fair voting system.

I just don’t see how national government can respond effectively and the article Mary refers to above offers an excellent example.

Education needs vary widely from place to place. For many rural areas, choice is limited by the sparse population and locality is at a premium that it isn’t in urban areas. It is dangerous in the extreme to impose a single one-size-fits-all solution.

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