Market Education

Republican views on education are always bleakly simple: schools, from preschool to graduate, are potentially huge sources of revenue trapped in inefficient government agencies.  If you “free” the schools from these government controls, so the market ideology says, you cut inefficiencies and lower costs while improving quality.  History tells us that things are more complicated, but it’s not surprising to find Willard Romney promoting the company line (“Romney’s support for Full Sail University raises eyebrows in higher ed“).

Even nominal monopolies  like public schools face market pressures, as my Dad use to remind me, for labor and services. You can’t take any institution “out of capitalism.”  So the market shapes everything already. It’s not whether or not the  market economy shapes an institution, it’s always about  shaping  markets through our laws and regulations. In Finland, as has been said many times, education is effective because a market has been shaped that makes teaching a well paid, relatively high status profession.

It’s expensive and unnecessary to “privatize” the public school system to sharpen market forces; it’s more effective to make teaching professionally lucrative.  The privatization of the public schools should be stopped; we can use the money we save  to focus on increasing the competitiveness of teachers. Higher education is no different: we need to change the market so that teachers are well paid and high status professionals, honest competitors to lawyers and engineers. That will improve all schools, public as well as for-profit.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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