Liberal from SLATE asks “What if there were no private high schools?”

Liberal from SLATE asks “What if there were no private high schools?”

Washington D.C. spends almost $30,000 per student in their public school system and it seems to me that it would be far more inexpensive to send kids to private schools through the voucher system.

 

August 29, 2013 12:20PM

A School Monopoly? What a Great Idea?

I’m reluctant to give more attention to the steaming pile of dreck that Slate is using as linkbait this morning, but someone should point out how incredibly asinine it is. The author argues that anyone who sends their child to a private school is a “bad person” because, well, see for yourself:

I am not an education policy wonk: I’m just judgmental. But it seems to me that if every single parent sent every single child to public school, public schools would improve. This would not happen immediately. It could take generations. Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good.

The first sentence is clearly true but it’s downhill from there. There’s a lot of economic illiteracy to unpack there as well as some rather frightening assumptions about the duty of individuals to sacrifice themselves for some ill-defined “common good” (on Twitter, the New York Times’s Ross Douthat notes that this argument has an eerie resemblence to the Italian fascist motto, “Everything for the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state”).

I’ll let others heap on the mocking and scorn that this argument so richly deserves. What I want to focus on is the evidence.

Had this self-declared non-education wonk bothered to take even a cursory look at the research literature, she’d find that competition actually improves the public schools. Of 23 studies of the impact of school choice programs on public school performance, 22 studies find a small but statistically significant positive effect and one finds no visible effect. None find any harm.

The reason that competition works is because it makes schools responsive to the needs of parents. What’s so astounding is that the author wants schools to be responsive to parents, but thinks that the best way to do it is to have a government monopoly, as though Ma Bell would’ve eventually produced an iPhone.

Many of my (morally bankrupt) colleagues send their children to private schools. I asked them to tell me why. Here is the response that most stuck with me: “In our upper-middle-class world, it is hard not to pay for something if you can and you think it will be good for your kid.” I get it: You want an exceptional arts program and computer animation and maybe even Mandarin. You want a cohesive educational philosophy. You want creativity, not teaching to the test. You want great outdoor space and small classrooms and personal attention. You know who else wants those things? Everyone.

Whatever you think your children need—deserve—from their school experience, assume that the parents at the nearby public housing complex want the same. No, don’t just assume it. Do something about it. Send your kids to school with their kids. Use the energy you have otherwise directed at fighting to get your daughter a slot at the competitive private school to fight for more computers at the public school. Use your connections to power and money and innovation to make your local school—the one you are now sending your child to—better. Don’t just acknowledge your liberal guilt—listen to it.

Scratch away the economic ignorance and smug self-righteousness and you find a compelling argument for school choice. Yes, low-income families also want access to good quality schools that meet their kids’ individual needs. But forcing everyone into the same school isn’t going to help. The author correctly identifies the problem but fails to arrive at the right solution. If we want true equality of opportunity, we should expand the educational options available to low- and middle-income families, not restrict the choices of everyone.

 

Related posts:

Open letter to Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney on school vouchers

The Machine: The Truth Behind Teachers Unions Published on Sep 4, 2012 by ReasonTV America’s public education system is failing. We’re spending more money on education but not getting better results for our children. That’s because the machine that runs the K-12 education system isn’t designed to produce better schools. It’s designed to produce more […]

 

Public schools need more competition and vouchers is the answer

Public schools need more competition and vouchers is the answer. Related posts: Powerful Evidence for School Choice April 22, 2013 by Dan Mitchell I expressed pessimism a few days ago about the possibility of replacing the corrupt internal revenue code with a flat tax. Either now or in the future. But that’s an exception to my […]

 

Brummett still resistant to vouchers because he wants us to save public schools at all cost

John Brummett in his article, “A new civil rights struggle in Little Rock?” Arkansas News Burea, August 25, 2011, asserted the main role vouchers should have is  “providing new models for regular public schools to emulate, not about replacing regular public schools.” The Heritage Foundation cares nothing about saving the public schools. If the public […]

 

Underperforming schools are built on the backs of our nation’s most vulnerable children

   We got to put in school choice because the current underperforming schools are built on the backs of our nation’s most vulnerable children. Who’s Afraid of School Profits? By Jason Bedrick Share Tweet Like Share Plus Should there be a separation of school and profit? Many opponents of education reform seem to think so. […]

 

The Empirical Evidence on School Choice

Milton Friedman on School Vouchers _______________ Just the facts Mam. APRIL 18, 2013 5:17PM School Choice Works By  JASON BEDRICK SHARE The evidence is in: school choice works. Yesterday, the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice released their third edition of their report “A Win-Win Solution: The Empirical Evidence on School Choice.” The report provides a literature […]

 

Open letter to President Obama (Part 290) (Vouchers)

Milton Friedman – Public Schools / Voucher System Published on May 9, 2012 by BasicEconomics The Machine: The Truth Behind Teachers Unions Published on Sep 4, 2012 by ReasonTV America’s public education system is failing. We’re spending more money on education but not getting better results for our children. That’s because the machine that runs […]

 

Open letter to President Obama (Part 287) (on vouchers)

(This letter was mailed before Oct 25, 2012.) President Obama c/o The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500 Dear Mr. President, I know that you receive 20,000 letters a day and that you actually read 10 of them every day. I really do respect you for trying to get a pulse on […]

 

Open letter to President Obama (Part 254) (on vouchers)

The Machine: The Truth Behind Teachers Unions Published on Sep 4, 2012 by ReasonTV America’s public education system is failing. We’re spending more money on education but not getting better results for our children. That’s because the machine that runs the K-12 education system isn’t designed to produce better schools. It’s designed to produce more […]

 

We need school choice and the voucher program that Milton Friedman envisioned

 Funding Government by the Minute Published on Mar 28, 2012 At the rate the federal government spends, it runs out of money on July 31. What programs should be cut to balance the budget and fund the government for the remaining five months of the year? Cutting NASA might buy two days; cutting the Navy […]

 

Listing of transcripts and videos of Free to Choose by Milton Friedman: Episode “What is wrong with our schools?” on www.theDailyHatch.org

Everywhere school vouchers have been tried they have been met with great success. Why do you think President Obama got rid of them in Washington D.C.? It was a political disaster for him because the school unions had always opposed them and their success made Obama’s allies look bad. In 1980 when I first sat […]

 

Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: