Thursday, January 17, 2008

Arnold Kling advocates more freedom in education

He writes, in response to Sol Stern:
As a voucher proponent, I could argue that on the demand side, the market for teachers is dominated by public schools. You don't go to ed school to teach in private schools--you go there to get certified to teach in public schools. A voucher system would raise the demand for teachers in private schools, and this might provide an impetus for changes in ed schools.

But I am a pessimist that there is any panacea for education (Stern comes close to saying that top-down curriculum reform is a panacea). I think that it is very difficult to overcome individual learning disabilities, poor executive function (I think that is the term du jour for kids who can't handle deadlines and homework), and dysfunctional values in families and peer groups.

I favor vouchers because they transfer power from bureaucrats and unions to parents. Maybe that transfer of power will improve education a lot, maybe only a little. But I view public schools as one of the major institutional assaults on liberty.

I am aware of the risk that vouchers could provide politicians with an excuse to regulate private schools more closely. My goal in supporting vouchers is to weaken politicians, not strengthen them. I believe that if citizens want to keep politicians from over-regulating schools under a voucher system, we can do so. In the end, there is no way to preserve liberty unless citizens are vigilant in protecting it.

I'd like more freedom, too.

UPDATE: More Sol Stern criticism rounded up here.

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