Sunday, November 14, 2010

Private? Public? Are there any Trade-Offs?

I quite like the reading this week. Coming from a family of educators and being raised in an environment where learning was a top priority, this subject is very near and dear to my heart. I quite like Rothbard’s point about pluralism being necessary for a society and the importance of individualism. I can agree with the point that compulsory education is inefficient in nature at most, as public school systems often are hotbeds for poor teachers (who will be around forever because of ten year), worn textbooks, and dilapidated buildings as state run institutions present a lack of competition.

However, though at heart I really do believe that free markets provide the most efficient outcomes. I am reluctant to believe that a private based education would solve all of our education problems. Though schools would all of a sudden become more efficient some unfortunate trends would also spring up.

Rothbard’s assumption that “parents know what is best for their children”: Though many may try to counterbalance my point by stating that even if parents don’t know their children’s education needs the fact is that the state is likely to know less about the child in question. Please hold off though and think about the trade-off that is presented through assigning parents the complete right to dictate their child’s education. Many parents are not RATIONAL. Blinders often lead parents to lack the full knowledge of their children’s true needs. Many parents get caught up in trying to live through their children assuming that their kids will enjoy what they did or would have. This makes it so children who might be talented in say, art are forced only to study math. Creating a position where the child not only misses out in specializing in their talent, but also is locked in a position of stress and anxiety. Rothbard mentions that specialty schools would soon pop up and this I agree would be an outcome of the effect of privatization, but would these school’s really lead to the best outcome for what students need or would they just be marketed commodities to what parents want (which would be fine and all if parents were rational which not all of them are). While it may be daunting to waste all that time in public school studying ALL of the subjects, in a sense isn’t a bit refreshing that we a familiar with all of them so we ourselves finally get (in college) TO CHOOSE our point of specialization and it can be something we want to do and not what our parents wanted us to do.

The F-word: By placing a price to education you have the problem of bright children who are still brought down not by their moronic peers but their moronic parents. This not only is dictated by rationality but by income as well. Parents with lower incomes will find it more difficult to ensure that their children get education. Parents with high incomes will pay more for the best. Education, being a factor of productivity which then directly impacts individual’s wages. We can extrapolate that inequality would be exacerbated. Dare I say….unfair (I know I can’t be real economist now after bringing the F-bomb to the table)

Don’t get me wrong America’s public education system is indeed broken. I know as it was a dreadful realization for me that I learned more in one year of homeschool, which I worked hard on formal instruction for only about three hours a day than in most of my entire grade school. I just want to be clear that a switch would not be absent of trade-offs.


  1. I think Rothbard called you anti-human, Camilla.

    "It is evident that the common enthusiasm for equality is, in the fundamental sense,anti-human. It tends to repress the flowering of individual personality and diversity, and civilization itself; it is a drive toward savage uniformity."

  2. yah, that anthropocentric lot is a bunch-o-jerks anyways. I'd rather be a dolphin or mouse as according to Douglas Adams they are smarter than the human race anyhow ;-)