Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Stupid in America?

Jerry Stratton, January 19, 2006

Yeah, okay, I still haven’t finished my article on school choice. But here’s an interesting one from John Stossel at ABC. In Stupid in America, he writes:

American schools don’t teach as well as schools in other countries because they are government monopolies, and monopolies don't have much incentive to compete. In Belgium, by contrast, the money is attached to the kids--it’s a kind of voucher system. Government funds education--at many different kinds of schools--but if a school can’t attract students, it goes out of business.

Belgian school principal Kaat Vandensavel told us she works hard to impress parents. “If we don't offer them what they want for their child, they won’t come to our school.” She constantly improves the teaching, saying, “You can’t afford 10 teachers out of 160 that don’t do their work, because the clients will know, and won't come to you again.”

“That's normal in Western Europe,” Harvard economist Caroline Hoxby told me. “If schools don’t perform well, a parent would never be trapped in that school in the same way you could be trapped in the U.S.”

And, in a forecast dear to my own heart, he writes that with school choice the options will be not just which school your children go to, but what kind of school, how they teach, and what they teach.

Competition inspires people to do what we didn’t think we could do. If people got to choose their kids’ school, education options would be endless. There could soon be technology schools, science schools, virtual schools where you learn at home on your computer, sports schools, music schools, schools that go all year, schools with uniforms, schools that open early and keep kids later, and, who knows what else. If there were competition, all kinds of new ideas would bloom.

Why, there might even be schools that don’t have to worry about whether or not state legislators believe in intelligent design.

In a free country, the educational system should encourage diversity over conformity. It should provide multiple options for parents, and it should not require parents to force other children to learn what they want their own children to learn.

  1. <- Snowball Effect
  2. Flat tax ->