Monday, December 20, 2004


Excerpt from here:

If public schools and compulsory attendance laws did not lead to increases in attendance, then why advocate either one? Or maybe a better way of phrasing the question is to ask how a system of public and compulsory education would benefit the educators and politicians who advocated such a system.

One benefit of compulsion to teachers was hinted at above-to increase their salaries. An increase in demand leads to an increase in price, ceteris paribus. So an increase in the demand for education, whether natural or coerced, raises the price of an education. These new students have to be educated by someone. And since the education system is being funded by tax dollars rather than by the demanders themselves, it becomes much easier to increase salaries (regardless of competence).

So by making the school system public rather than private, teachers and administrators also insulate themselves from the wishes of students and parents-the ultimate consumers of education. This insulation from market forces solidifies the power of the elite group of educationists for years to come. The suppliers, not the demanders, choose the curricula, the textbooks, decide the certification process for teachers, etc. They run the whole show, and only have bureaucrats to please rather than consumers. Not only are bureaucrats easier to please since they don't spend their own money, but if the politician/bureaucrat needs information to placate angry demanders, to whom do they turn? The educationists, in the positions of power, have all of the "relevant" information.

And what of the bureaucrat-what does he get out of this system? Public education, with the added feature of compulsion, reduces the cost to politicians of making wealth transfers. The cost of making transfers is diminished by reducing the opposition to transfers. If politicians can reduce the cost of transferring wealth by reducing the opposition to them, then they can continue to authorize transfers to interested parties for a price.

Public education reduces opposition to wealth transfers by teaching students that redistribution, public works, and democracy are the American way. War and crisis increases the size of government. Public education tells us we need government all the time. Public education introduces the mantras of democracy to the young. Democracy keeps the two major parties in power, keeps their spoils flowing in, and tells us that intervention is okay because the majority voted for it.

The conclusion is that public schools and compulsory attendance laws benefit educators, administrators, and politicians more than citizens or their children. But one could draw deeper conclusions. Through the Mises Institute and other free market organizations, one can find books on the evils of all kinds of intervention and democracy, and how once instituted these evils begin to destroy us as individuals, then our families, and even society itself.

Public education is the glue that holds all of these ideas together. It is how these ideas are spread to society at large. Thus, one might argue that public education is the greatest evil of all, and that it must be struck down in one mighty blow before we begin to find ourselves as persons, families, and a people again.


Teachers shriek

The government's targets for extra university places must not be met by increasing the numbers on "mickey mouse" courses, the higher education minister, Margaret Hodge, warned yesterday. Mrs Hodge tried to reassure traditionalists, but angered the National Union of Students, by condemning unnamed courses which she said had little intellectual content and were not related to employment needs. She promised that most of the expansion in higher education would come from an increase in new vocational-based foundation degrees, two-year courses below the level of traditional bachelor's degrees, now being studied by 15,000 students. She said she could see some universities teaching only vocational subjects.

Speaking at a seminar organised by the Institute for Public Policy Research in London, Mrs Hodge hailed early successes with foundation degrees, being phased in through extended pilots. She added: "Simply stacking up numbers on mickey mouse courses is not an acceptable way forward." She refused to "name and shame" courses, and in the past Mrs Hodge has defended media studies, which most critics usually cite, as getting graduates into employment. She told reporters later that a mickey mouse course was one "where the content is perhaps not as rigorous as one would expect and the degree itself may not have huge relevance to the labour market".

But in her speech Mrs Hodge linked the phrase to unpopular courses which she predicted would eventually be forced to close. She believed widespread publication of student surveys as part of the government's new quality assurance regime for universities would encourage students to vote with their feet. "Once we publish far more open data about the nature of courses and how they help you lead to a job and we are asking students to contribute towards the cost of their teaching, I think students themselves will ensure that what is offered by universities not just meets their aspirations but also meets labour market needs," she said.

At the seminar, Sally Hunt, general secretary of the Association of University Teachers, said no one would call engineering a mickey mouse subject, yet it was suffering from a shortfall in student numbers. Mrs Hodge said that was not what she had in mind. Mandy Telford, president of the NUS, said: "NUS is dismayed by Margaret Hodge's comments, especially at a time when higher education needs all the support it can get. "It is appalling that the minister for higher education, who should be championing our cause in the run-up to the white paper, can make such a disparaging remark. NUS challenges her to define what a 'mickey mouse' course is."

More here


For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL schools should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the poor and minimal regulation.

Comments? Email me here. For times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site (viewable even in China!) here


No comments: