Jonah Goldberg thinks that government should get out of the education business.
Here’s a good question for you: Why have public schools at all?
OK, cue the marching music. We need public schools because blah blah blah and yada yada yada. We could say blah is common culture and yada is the government’s interest in promoting the general welfare. Or that children are the future. And a mind is a terrible thing to waste. Because we can’t leave any child behind.
The problem with all these bromides is that they leave out the simple fact that one of the surest ways to leave a kid “behind” is to hand him over to the government. Americans want universal education, just as they want universally safe food. But nobody believes that the government should run 90% of the restaurants, farms and supermarkets. Why should it run 90% of the schools — particularly when it gets terrible results?
Full disclosure: I work for a public school system, so that gives me perspective that perhaps Mr. Goldberg — who doesn’t say whether or not he went to public school when he was a kid — doesn’t have.
I could write several long posts about why public education, while obviously not perfect, is preferable to privatizing it, the first of which is the expense. Miami-Dade County Public Schools is the fourth-largest school district in the country. The budget for one year averages $6 billion. Open your checkbook, Jonah. It’s your tab now. And here’s a little tidbit of news for Jonah: Thirteen Miami-Dade schools made the Newsweek list of Top High Schools in the nation. Beat that with a stick.
Mr. Goldberg also makes the fatuous comparison between the food industry and education, saying that the government isn’t in the business of running it just to guarantee safe food. Actually, education should be on the same level as the defense budget because without either of them, this country is as vulnerable to attack by stupidity and ignorance as it is by terrorists. And the results will be a lot longer lasting.
Now, would Mr. Goldberg like to see the defense of this country turned over to private contractors? Oh, wait…
Cross-posted from Bark Bark Woof Woof.