Monday, December 15, 2008

state budget woes = education reform?

Tight state budgets across the country present yet another opportunity to embrace significant school reform.

Injecting competition and the private sector into the market for elementary and secondary education can be driven by concerns about:

-quality (most evident in the inner cities, but presumably a more subtle issue in most contexts)

-choice: the tyranny of the majority or the minority-- but in any case, always the tyranny of the monopoly-- in getting its way to the exclusion of others (most evident on hot button issues like creationism vs. evolution/Evolution, versions of "school prayer", etc.-- but a significant factor on a wide array of topics)

-and in this context, cost: the vast amount of money one would expect to be wasted (relative to a private-sector, competitive outcome). When budgets are lean, adding significant efficiency becomes relatively attractive. That said, the power of interest groups, the inertia of tradition, and ignorance about economics are likely to preserve the painful status quo.

However it comes, and although it is not a panacea, it will be a glorious day when competition reduces cost, increases quality and promotes choice for parents and their children.


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