More Hand-Wringing over Education


MSNBC is devoting this week to the education crisis. Every ten years or so, the media, politicians, and intelligentsia remember how bad the government schools are. They then go into overdrive discussing what’s wrong and what to do about it. Funny thing is, they never look back to the last time they went through this hand-wringing process. Each time the prescription for fixing the schools is the same: more money, plus a re-dedication to excellence, with a call for longer school days and school years thrown in for good measure. Government officials and union leaders shower us with idle prose about our future, our children, and the competitiveness of our country, as though we haven’t heard it so many times before. That this exercise is repeated every decade shows how much good it all does. More money is appropriated and lots of nice things are said — but not much changes.

And why should it? The powers that be, and their cheerleaders in the media, refuse to acknowledge what education is so badly in need of: competition. Real competition. Not bounded ersatz “competition,” such as charter schools and vouchers, which ultimately leave political authorities and education bureaucrats in charge. I mean the kind of competition a freed market would generate, in which buyers and sellers were free to do whatever they think best without being second-guessed by presumptuous interlopers, in which entrepreneurship is in no way stifled by force-wielding government agents.

That is the only way children will have a real chance at real education, rather than the phony-baloney substitute the State and the education industry peddle.

I wrote about this earlier this year: “We Don’t Need No State Education.”



Sheldon Richman is the former editor of The Freeman and, and a contributor to The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. He is the author of Separating School and State: How to Liberate America's Families.

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