Capitalism: The Cure for Education Failures

In a review of Education and Capitalism: How Overcoming Our Fear of Markets and Economics Can Improve America’s Schools (Hoover Press, 362 pages, $15) for the Chicago Sun-Times, Jonathan Hoenig writes:

[Authors Herbert Walberg and Joseph Bast] present a compelling and thoroughly researched argument for introducing market-based reforms into public schools.

The vast majority of children in the United States attend public schools, and in a methodic and disciplined fashion, the authors make a comprehensive case why the free market can better educate more students at a lower cost.

The authors begin by describing the horrible condition of public education, which, make no mistake, is a complete mess nationwide. Although government schools maintain a monopoly on public funds, they’ve failed miserably by almost every conceivable benchmark.

Even more depressing is that even as results have dropped, the size and cost of the government school bureaucracy has soared.

The solution?

The solution is capitalism, the same incredible force of productive change that brought civilization out of the Dark Ages and propelled this country to the highest standard of living, for rich and poor alike, in all of human history.

The authors’ thesis, built on the groundwork laid by the University of Chicago’s Milton Friedman, is that just as the free market has created unparalleled innovation in medicine, agriculture and communication, so could it vastly improve education. The ability for parents to choose their schools, and for schools to compete for their attendance, would raise standards and lower cost, just as it has in every other area of our lives.

Walberg and Bast devote a good deal of space to refuting common misconceptions and criticisms of capitalism, and describe how a free market in education might work. But they go beyond that:

[I]n the tradition of economist Ludwig von Mises and philosopher Ayn Rand, they ground their arguments in moral as well as practical terms. Capitalism isn’t simply the most efficient social system ever devised, but the most just as well.

Read the full article for more details!