Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Caveat Emptor: The Coming School Voucher Disaster

People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. -- Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations
Book I, Chapter X, Part II
Americans in the education business, like most peoples who work to maximize their personal benefits for minimal cost, are much more like poker players than like philanthropist saints. Gaming the “free market” pays far better than does supporting it.

Of course, it has always been the practice of those in the “uplift” biz, educators, clergy, social workers and the like, to pretend to an almost otherworldly disregard of their own needs and benefits, while pushing the idea that they sacrifice in the service of others.

The business world is a jungle. Genghis Khan is a role model. Relatively few people accept a morality as strict as that preached by Adam Smith to be the backbone of a free market economy. Bullshit and fraud are the language of daily discourse, even though the Nicespeak promoted by advertising is the politically correct dialect.

It is really little different in the education business. Only wishful thinking blinds us to the malfeasance that is far from rare and that serves as an incentive to much institutional development. Vouchers for education will provide the economic wheelers and dealers, who already loot the public treasuries, one more easy entrance to pillage.

Our kids, our hopes and dreams, are involved in education. Therefore, let us permit hope to triumph over experience. Let us, resolutely, continue to believe that, someday, in the not too distant future:
a. no child need be left behind;
b. all adults, educated thoroughly and efficiently, will participate in the processes of self-governance;
c. most kids, and adults, will be math whizzes, and champions at Jeopardy;
d. all Americans will be financially schooled, intelligent consumers -- particularly of education; and
e. America, the New Jerusalem, will finally achieve “alabaster cities” whose gleam is undimmed by human tears.

All this from the viking of Genghis Khan and his Poker Players, pretending to the priesthood of the Free Market.
What is liberty without … virtue? …It is the greatest of all evils… -- Edmund Burke

For references and to examine these issues further, see Charter School, Vouchers and America's Growing Divisivemess.

--- EGR