Sunday, May 15, 2005

Walter Gets It Right, Katie Gets It Wrong 

Walter Williams, in his column "How Not to be Poor" nails the current state of D.C. Schools:

Rotten education is a severe handicap to upward mobility. But is it a civil rights problem? Let's look at it. Washington, D.C. public schools, as well as many other big city schools, are little more than educational cesspools.

Per student spending in D.C. is about the highest in the nation. D.C.'s mayors have been black, and so have a large percentage of the city council, school principals, teachers and superintendents. Suggesting racial discrimination plays any part in D.C.'s educational calamity is near madness and diverts attention away from possible solutions.

Katie, however, over at "A Constrained Vision", misses the point. I'm frankly surprised since she is an economist. Here are her recent comments on public education:

As part of my general squeamishness about hardcore libertarianism, I have never been on board for completely privatized education; I do not share Ludwig von
Mises's vision for education: [T]he state, the government, the laws must not in any way concern themselves with schooling or education. Public funds must not be used for such purposes. The rearing and instruction of youth must be left entirely to parents and to private associations and institutions.

I prefer Clint Bolick's position that "public education and public schools are different things." Even if we believe in public education, that does not mean that government has to provide those schools. Instead, as is the case with vouchers and charter schools, the government should fund education but not necessarily provide it.
Does she really believe that a government that funds education will not have a say in how the money is spent? Here lies the fundamental problem. Once education becomes a public good then the bureaucrats take over.

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