Two Australian econo-bloggers, Labor supporter Andrew Leigh and 'classical liberal' Andrew Norton, are running "a bloggish debate" over the next week or so on the topic: Should public schools be privatised?
The Day 1 post is by Andrew Norton. He writes:
People are used to the idea of state schools, so they don’t think about how uneasily government-controlled education fits with liberal democracy. If someone said that Australia’s media should be owned by the state, with journalists told by the state what they should say, with media audiences examined to make sure they had absorbed the official line, there would be predictable and justifiable outrage.
Yet public education means essentially that for Australia’s young people. The government owns most schools, employs most teachers, tells them what to teach through state-set curricula, and examines students to make sure they have it right—even kids escaping to private schools can’t avoid these last two aspects of state-run education. And unlike state-owned media, there are severe consequences for ignoring state education.
...Rather than fostering social unity, as some of its supporters claim, state-controlled education is a source of division and nastiness. Instead of allowing different groups to devise their own curriculum, and letting parents choose between them, we fight over a common curriculum. The public education lobby stirs class and sectarian resentment in its attempts to take funding from private schools.
And what is it, can you remind me, that makes public education worth preserving?
Not views that I share. but it's good to see them aired.