Government’s compulsory public education isn’t very old, only arriving with urbanization and the industrialization of the U.S, following developments in Bismarckian Germany. It has never been intended to educate folk; rather, it’s purpose has always been to produce citizens instructed in the things government wanted citizens to know. What else, after all?
Today’s stultified education bureaucracy doesn’t even do that very well and at twice the cost of private schools, it does badly at an unreasonable price, typical of government. In our equally stultified economy, the system, like everything else profligate, has begun shrinking. Enrollment Off in Big School Districts will describe what’s happening.
Having less is the inevitable result of decline; schools and teachers’ unions fatuous demands to the contrary won’t change real-world economics that are finally settling onto our politicians, though they won’t be admitted until after the elections and will then be blamed on everybody passing by. The sniveling schools losing students to charter schools illustrate why teachers’ unions oppose charters. Imagine the result of vouchers! Maybe we’ll get to see that; Governor Bobby Jindal has a voucher program moving in Louisiana. Competition among service providers…what a concept!
But that’s a tiny step; too long delayed, now we’re asked: What If Public Schools Were Abolished? Before deciding that the sky would fall, consider: Kids worked and received whatever education they got on the side throughout history. Public warehouse schools only came when too many kids were left wandering all day; we locked them up in schools for lack of anything better to do with them. Do we need to do that now? Are rooms full of restive kids with a frazzled teacher from a third-rate college the way to go? Can the internet and computer education do better? there is no question they will be vastly cheaper. Yes, the unions will explode and many now doing a poor job as teachers won’t be needed. The Left, which doesn’t mind seeing seniors losing health care services in favor of the uninsured via ObamaCare, will scream. But the result will be positive and the pain, temporary.
We constructed two icons of our civil religion that have each outlived any usefulness but persist as bleeding wounds on the body politic: the public schools and the Postal Service. Both have outlasted any usefulness they might once have had; both need to go.
There are fruit trees that bear sweet, desirable fruit but they attract hordes of stinging, biting ants that prevent most from availing themselves of the bounty. When they grow old and produce less, the little protectors stay until no more fruit comes. The Postal Service and public schools have their hordes of invested protectors as well; they care not the quality of the harvest. Our public orchard needs a good spraying…