John Stossel continues the hammer away at the decaying state of the nation’s schools and promoting competition as a solution. His August 30, 2006 article presented an interesting slant on the concept.
Referencing surveys of parents indicating satisfaction with their children’s public school, Stossel posits the”satisfaction” is there because the adults have no way to know what alternatives their children might have. Therein lies the mischief with “satisfaction.”
This pundit does not equate public education with government schools. (See “The Peculiar Institution” if you haven’t already) Publicly funded education is good. Government schools, as they exist, are not. In a nation otherwise opposed to socialism/communism, the business of public education has devolved into a government monopoly. Children are forced to attend certain schools and the money to pay for the monopoly is confiscated from the personal wealth of the citizens. Yet surveys indicate parents are satisfied. If satisfaction surveys mean “leave it alone, it’s fine just the way it is,” which is how the education monopoly interprets, then imagine how such surveys might have affected us if applied to other areas:
· 1915 - “Are you satisfied with your Model-T Ford automobile?” Yes!
Conclusion: Leave it alone, no further development necessary.
· 1937 - “Are you satisfied with the new electric service to your home?” Yes! It’s wonderful to have a light bulb in most rooms to brighten up the night. Conclusion: Leave it alone, no further development necessary.
· 1954 - “Are you satisfied with your television?” Yes! Three different networks in crisp black and white. Conclusion: Leave it alone, no further development needed.
· 1960 - “Are you satisfied with your food store and department stores?” Yes! Conclusion: Leave it alone, no Walmart necessary.
· 1970 - “Are you satisfied with 8-track tape recordings?” Yes! Conclusion: Leave it alone, no further improvement needed.
· 1982 - “Are you satisfied with your personal computer?” Yes! Conclusion: Leave it alone, no further development necessary.
· 2005 - “Are you satisfied with your child’s public school and education?” Yes! Conclusion: Leave them alone, no improvement necessary.
In the above list, which single item is not subject to the free-market? In the above list, which situations, deemed satisfied by consumers, progressed, created new demands and greater satisfaction?
Indeed, what might public education be if freed from the government monopoly? It’s a thrilling prospect. Unfettered by the state (or applicable totalitarian entity) people are dynamic and creative. The government school lobby must have great sway to perpetuate this state-controlled industry.
In case a reader is unfamiliar with this pundit’s take on big government thinking consider the following: A popular magazine recently presented a listing of desirable cities to live in. The pluses and minuses were presented for each of the cities. In one city a significant “minus” was a very high sales tax, especially on food. But, noted the article, residents cross the nearby state line and do their shopping in the other state where the sales tax is considerably lower, so it balances out.
Pundit George quiz: Which border town has a greater sales tax revenue?
People are dynamic and they are going to make their choices. There has never been a sustained government of oppression. Never has, never will. Governments (monopolies, theologies…) expend force to control people. Yet it is the people who have the power. We, the People achieve the remarkable. Why not have remarkable publicly funded education? Stossel’s got it right - the schools need competition now.