Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Monday, February 28, 2005

Vouchers, Schools, and Competition

Peter Mork at Economics With a Face has this point to make about the opposition to voucher plans for schooling:

It has just never made sense how much opposition there is to letting parents choose a school for their child, especially when the families these programs are meant to benefit are the poorest in our society who are forced to attend some of the worst schools.

But I know what the real issue is about: teachers' unions and money. If parents were free to send their kids to the school of their choice, many parents might choose private schools where the teachers were not unionized. This could represent a huge loss to both the coffers and political clout of the unions. That's also why the unions spent around $80 million to defeat the proposition at the same time they complained schools were underfunded.

During the campaign, a teacher I knew gave me the packet her union had sent her on how to debate against Prop. 38. It included a variety of pamphlets and flyers explaining what was wrong with the proposition. It also included a small card you could keep in your wallet or purse with 10 rules to follow when debating the issue.

First on the list was: "#1. Never defend the current system."

If that's not a telling statement I don't know what is.

The major opposition I have heard to vouchers takes the form of "but what about quality control?" As Peter says in his piece, it would be nice if the same scrutiny were applied to public schools.

Fortunately, in Canada parents and students do have some slight choice, and the choice provides some slight competitive pressure on the schools to improve the quality of the education they provide.
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