Public Education; Views from the elephant in your living room

I attend an invitation-only forum of a few dozen people, many of whom it turns out are educators.  Someone started a thread on how to improve education (Joe, you know where this is going).  The discussion was proceeding as you might expect– this person with experience was discussing details of education with another experienced person.  Someone suggested that compulsory attendance was a bad idea– that if a kid doesn’t want to be there, he can be a disruption, etc.. So I took the bait and posted a response.  Here it is, with some minor edits;

You’re on the right track. Make attendance optional. The next step would be to make funding optional too, as in; if I choose not to send my kid to a “public” school, I don’t have to pay a cent for it– I can instead pay some other school. If I choose the grocery store on the West side of town, I don’t have to still give 120 dollars a week to the grocery store on the East side. If the East side store wants my 120 dollars per week, they’ll have to do a better job of serving my wants and needs, so as to entice me back. Hence the store which better serves the wants and needs of the community gets the “funding”.  Further, we don’t have to fight with one another over how to best run “our grocery store”.

I point out to all here that we are not discussing the details of how Microsoft, Linksys, Apple, or Maxtor should be forced by the legislature to operate, yet we are using computers that only a few years ago would have been the subject of science fiction. We’re not debating the policies of Wal Mart to figure out how the state can get them to sell at low prices and still make enough money to be self-sustaining, or Addidas shoes, or Coca-Cola Bottling Company, etc.. It’s not as if we need to have legislators deciding how these companies should be run at all– if one of them starts to do a poor job, there will be ten others to take its place. Besides, how many legislators have successfully run a school, or a software company, or a microchip manufacturing plant, or a bottling plant?

Poorly-run government programs go on and on and on for generations, sucking up more and more resources. In the case of schools, whole generations are getting ill-educated and it just keeps perpetuating itself.  Poorly-run businesses, on the other hand, fail, and pretty quickly, and then they are gone. Then someone else buys their assets and starts something better, all with zero participation from idiots in Congress, zero participation from the county commissioners, zero involvement from the loons in city council, and at zero cost to the taxpayer and zero coercion.

This is what was once known as a “Free Market”, which is a system that has proven itself superior in every measureable way for many generations, though in this enlightened age, no one believes a bit of it.

Today, we all know perfectly well that if the government didn’t provide shoes for our children, no child would have shoes unless they were lucky enough to be born into a rich family. So anyone who opposes full, compulsory, free shoes, is anti-shoe, or a shoephobe, and obviously hates both kids and shoemakers! These people are known as “conservatives” or “neo-cons” etc., and are absolutely terrible, evil people, who want all poor kids to go barefoot so their rich buddies can make even more money and won’t have to pay their fair share in taxes.

Therefore, we should be discussing what our state and federal legislators are going to do to provide shoes (and computers and software) to all kids. We all know that that is why this country was founded and our constitution written– so everyone would have everything they need, provided by the state, so they can all be healthy and happy, and think the right thoughts, and feel warm and fuzzy, and never have to be upset or uncomfortable or have to work too hard.

The post, by design, is rather incongruous with the rest of the thread, yet, I thought, to the very heart of the matter (two toddlers are concentrating on their game of catch at the edge of a cliff and you want to change the whole subject by striking up a discussion on subjects as ethereal and unrelated as situational awareness and the law of gravity?  Dude!  We’re playing catch here?).

It’s all been said before of course, by others more eloquent than I, but they are elephants in other people’s living rooms.  This is your living room.

I expected at least someone to respond, but nothing.  They went right on, discussing the details of how this or that tweak would make things better in education.  Hello; this is the elephant in your living room speaking.  Socialism doesn’t work.  It leads to stagnation and decay every time its tried.  It may look great on paper but it starts with the ignorance of how people actually interact in real life, and everything it tries to accomplish is founded on that ignorance.

And then there is the pesky little issue of rights (the right to choose where your education dollars go, for instance) but how dare I bring that up.  We’re discussing public education here, after all.


3 thoughts on “Public Education; Views from the elephant in your living room

  1. There are laws that govern economics in much the same way we are governed by physical laws such as gravity. No matter how many bearded pseudo-philosophers are thrown at the problem, there are still unavoidable consequences. State-run education is not exempt.

    No group of “consumers” will ever agree on anything with regard to what mandatory, state-run education should provide. Not in a free society, anyway. Either the government addresses the wants of one group, and ignores the other–which is not fair since they all pay–or the government attempts to address all wants, which results in over-production and exorbitant taxes.

  2. I’ll say I agree completely…the government schools are the first, best bastion of socialism in the U.S. And one of the best examples of how socialism invariably fails if not propped up.

    Not to mention the moral problem of robbing Peter (and Mary, and the chorus) to pay for Paul’s children’s education.

    Funny how well educated the public was before federally-funded and controlled “public” (government-school) education. At the turn of the last century it was assumed that a high-school graduate would know English, as well as Latin and Greek, be well-versed in mathematics, usually up to calculus, know ancient world history and American history, and be conversant on a huge variety of other topics.

  3. There’s so much money at stake here too, and job security for the incompetent, that reason will always take a back seat. Education itself takes a back seat when we’re dealing with, IIRC, the largest union in the world.

    My response to that is; the really good teachers and administrators would do far better for themselves in a free market. And we could by stock in their corporations.

    McElementaries, McJunior Highs, and McHigh Schools are what we really need. (just tweaking the Left here) Oh, and don’t forget McWal Mart Vo-Tech! I truly believe that some on the Left would die (or more likely, kill) trying to prevent such an outcome as that. Free markets to them are like sunlight, garlic and crucifixes are to vampires.

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