Content-type: text/html ~ Stephen's Web ~ Free Market Vs. Government, Part 2

Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Apr 11, 2007

Continuing the back and forth with Graham Glass...

* If families could easily afford to send their kids to a good school, the government would no longer need to fund schools or teachers, since the general population would be capable of paying for them in the free market.
You'd think, but as it turns out, if you require one person (a parent) to pay something for a second person (a child), a significant number of them spend the money on other things, like booze or gambling or whatever.

Then what?

If the parent has not paid, do you prohibit the child from attending school? Obviously not - allowing children to grow up without any education is not an option.

So you have to force the parent to pay, right?

That's called taxes.

Back to square one.

* They might prefer to spend the money on other goods and services and send their child to a cheap and terrible school. But would such schools survive in a marketplace where people can afford better?

Don't ask me.

Go down to the strip and ask the parents who are feeding their children at McDonalds.

They could be providing nourishing, healthy meals. Possibly even for less money.

But, for some reason, they don't.

If it were up to me, when students attended the government-funded and run schools, they would be properly fed as well.
* Would there be a need for any sort of standard curriculum?

Don't know. This is a matter for considerable debate.

But tell me this - after paying the thousands of dollars a year for twelve years, would you be OK with it if your kids couldn't read or perform basic math?

Just asking.
* charities like the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation seem like they're better suited for this kind of role.
Where is the evidence for this?

Charities do well at focused high-profile projects, but are less good at public infrastructure.

The Gates Foundation, for example, opens hugely expensive model schools, while millions of children remain under-educated.

Entire nations in South America don't receive any Gates foundation money.

Oprah Winfrey decided to spend her millions toward education in Africa.

On that continent of 800 million people, her considerable investment will educate 20 or 30 children.

That's the problem with charities - they're capricious. And run by people without any particular expertise in education.

Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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