Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Reason and Education Reform

Back to basics

There is an interview with Milton Friedman in the December 2005 issue of Reason Magazine about reform of our eductional system, something he first proposed fifty years ago. The previous Workers blog entry mentioned the need to reform our tax code as it relates to housing and health, with education, these (housing health education) are our big three for human welfare.

US public schools are caught in a bureaucrat trap, with increasing federal oversight (nowhere in the Constitution is there mentioned a federal role for education) and reform is hampered by the teachers unions and diminished parental expectation from extended periods of mediocracy. The more a bureacracy controls something the more complicated it becomes as the bureaucracy creates more and more regulations and 'standards' to justify and ensure the bureaucracy's existence. There is no substitute for hardworking teachers and hardworking motivated students and parents.

Elsewhere in the Reason issue it is mentioned how ironically the Democratic party should be supporting school reform as it is the poor who are most effected by the lack of good schooling - the rich can just send their children to private schools. However the Democrats are beholden to - receive contributions from - the labor unions - and are blinded to the need for reform.

This does not have to be, reform can be transitional. First, keep the level of funding constant (the political game can be seen as being won if spending is not cut), but give states the right to spend all money as they see fit. Then allow parents to send their children to any school within that state. Then, remove federal spending on schools and have states support the schools according to their own mandates. More and more states are having school choice, so it is just a question of time. Let the laboratories of democracy experiment.

Friedman was instrumental in abolishing the military draft in the USA. He was asked what he considers more important, abolishment of the draft or school reform, he said the latter.

School reform, like the draft, shows how that if our political parties can lose their historic dogma, public policy can be advanced for the good of society. What is not to like about school reform?