One of the interesting characteristics of socialism is that its advocates never lose hope that their system, one of these days, is finally going to succeed. No matter that their system has produced perpetual failure and crisis, year after year, for decades. No matter that such failure and crises afflict a vast array of areas in which socialism has been tried, such as immigration, monetary policy, retirement, healthcare, foreign policy, and many others. No matter that a never-ending series of reforms has failed to bring success or resolve the crises. Proponents of socialist systems never lose hope. They continue to believe that someone somewhere is going to come up with a “comprehensive reform package” that is finally — finally! — going to make socialism work.
A good example of this phenomenon appeared in an op-ed in the December 10 issue of the Washington Post. The article is about America’s public-school system, which is one of America’s premier examples of a socialist system. The author is Robert C. Pianta, the dean of the University of Virginia Curry School of Education and Human Development.
Pianta makes an excellent presentation of what a mess public schooling has long been in America. He opens his article by pointing out, “It is no secret that America’s schools face great challenges, including a shortage of high-quality teachers and an ever-growing achievement gap in many underserved communities. This issue has been recognized for decades.”
He condemns the educational reforms that have been adopted in the past to deal with the never-ending educational crisis. He points out that “our public schools have continued to struggle under the weight of misguided reform and legislation.” He writes that “in the rush to enforce standards, the reforms enacted overemphasized standardized tests in place of other kinds of changes that might address the real problems…. These reforms also hampered educators’ flexibility and satisfaction in the classroom, driving the downward spiral of the profession that continues to unfold today.”
Pianta also takes on federal reform. He writes, “At the federal level, the most comprehensive education bill in a generation, 2002’s No Child Left Behind Act, ultimately emblematized this mistaken path….”
So, what is Pianta’s solution for the decades-long education crisis, including its vast array of failed reforms? Get ready. Drum roll. Pianta says that the solution is … more money! Yes, that’s right! All that has to happen is for government officials to levy even higher taxes on the American people and then flood the public-school system with large amounts of tax-funded monetary largess.
Voila! Better teachers! Better curricula! Better books! Just throw more money at the problem and finally — finally! — the decades-long education crisis will be over!
My question is: Why in the world didn’t anyone think of this before now? Maybe that too is a reflection of the manifest failure of public schooling.
The fact is though that Pianta’s tax-and-spend “solution” to the manifest failure of America’s public school system is no solution at all. Instead, it is just one more misguided attempt to reform an inherently defective system in the hopes of finally making it succeed.
It would be difficult to find a better example of a socialist system than public schooling. The system is based on central planning, which is a core feature of socialism. As anyone in North Korea, which also has public schooling, can attest, central planning always produces crises. Thus, it should surprise no one that public schooling has been besieged by a state of permanent crisis.
The system is also characterized by compulsory attendance. It is funded through the coercive process of taxation. All the schoolteachers and administrators are government employees. The state sets the curriculum and decides the textbooks to be used.
What Pianta and so many other people who believe in a socialist educational system simply cannot confront is that their system is inherently defective. That is, it isn’t “broken,” as supporters sometimes assert. It’s inherently defective. That means it cannot be repaired. No reform can possibly make it work. It will always fail, and it will always remain in crisis no matter what reform is adopted.
There is but one solution to America’s educational morass. There is none other. That solution is the free market. That doesn’t mean school vouchers (often described as “choice”), which is just another socialist reform program that right-wing public-school reformers have long endorsed. It means an educational system that is entirely free of government involvement and interference. It means a separation of school and state, just as our ancestors separated church and state.
No more central planning, mandatory-attendance laws, school taxes, and government schoolteachers, textbooks, and curricula. Instead, a total free market in education, one in which entrepreneurs are free to offer consumers any educational products they wish and one in which consumers are free to educate their children any way they want. Consumer and parental sovereignty, rather than state sovereignty, in the education of children.
Socialism produces the worst of everything, and it is inherently incapable of working, no matter what reform is adopted. The free market produces the best of everything, and it is the only system that works. Why continue embracing a system that produces perpetual failure and crisis? Why not instead adopt a system that produces educational success, vitality, and harmony?