How Liberal Economic Philosophy Has Wrecked Education
effect has economics had on how schools are being run today?
A huge effect. That's not all bad, of course; the
skills of economics have high potential for helping educational administrators
make better management decisions. But to the extent that the philosophy of
economics that's most prevalent today is replacing classical American economics
ideology, it's bad news, because it has destroyed competition and choice, and
established a powerful government monopoly in public education.
For the last several decades, schools have been
transformed by the ideas of British thinker John Mayard Keynes (pronounced
"canes," 1883-1946, who developed the theory of macroeconomics. Keynesians
position government as the answer to every problem, and the notion that
government should intervene in the lives and choices of individuals for the
good of the whole.
Keynes' ideas spurred Roosevelt's New Deal and the
deeply entrenched ethic we have now in this country, that higher taxes and
make-work public spending are the way to keep people employed and the economy
alive, even though the services provided aren't as good as the private sector
could have provided, and everyone's plunged into a bottomless pit of debt.
Keynesian economics spurs more activity by the
government, not the private sector, and tends to create new problems that
"force" government to keep spending and regulating more and more, displacing
the private sector from its previous functions and responsibilities more and
Keynesian economics is why we are so deeply in debt
with exploding government entitlement programs, levels of taxation that are
becoming untenable for many people, a shrinking middle class, and so many
marginalized people in this incredible land of plenty. We have these huge
problems because we turned to Keynes and away from the free-market economics --
Adam Smith's "Invisible Hand" -- that served as the framework for the American
dream for the centuries before.
Keynes was the king of letting enormous public debt
pile up with little or no worry about the impact on the generations to come,
because, as this non-Christian ideologue said famously, "In the long run, we
are all dead."
Here's how his ideas have played out in U.S. school philosophies:
The elite should be in charge because they're
smarter, and everybody else should just come along for the ride without any
meaningful input into what happens. But of course, the masses should still
shoulder the cost.
Instead of outright government control as in Marxist
systems, however, the control is in semi-autonomous corporate bodies operating
within the framework of the State, similar to the medieval fiefdoms of Europe.
That's where all these "public-private partnerships" are coming from,
especially in education, and increasing influence by tax-sheltered
Non-Government Organizations (NGO's) and foundations of the rich.
Keynesians want schools to become more like training
centers than centers of liberal-arts education because they believe that, in
the Information Age, the need for government control of the "means of
production" has shifted from factories and farms, to "human capital" - what we
used to call "people."
The rich and powerful will put their kids in private
schools to position them for the few opportunities for future leadership, while
the hoi polloi have no choice but to put theirs in the centrally-controlled,
dumbed-down, highly bureaucratic "local education agencies" (as they're already
called in England) that lead mostly to make-work and donkey work. There's the
appearance of local control in these LEA's, but actually, they're just local
branches of a national government agency, like post office branches.
Chillingly, "LEA's" is the same term used in the America 2000, Goals 2000 and
No Child Left Behind federal education legislation of the past 25 years for
what we used to call "local public schools."
To Keynesians, the group is more important than the
individual, which is the opposite of the American philosophy. Group concepts
such as "global interdependence," "world citizenship," "sustainable
development," "equity" and "tolerance" will overshadow "anachronisms" of U.S.
history such as "national sovereignty," "independence" and "inalienable
rights." Keynesians believe aggregate demand for goods and services should rule
over individual choices, perceived needs and desires. Conformity rules over
choice, and submission to the government's imposed values over personal freedom
of thought in important personal decisions such as career choices. It's
basically "the government's way or the highway" in everything from school
curriculum to gatekeeping for who gets into the "right" colleges and gets the
Social control is better public policy than freedom,
according to Keynesians. It's an elitist mentality. It's best to offer people a
minimum of "choice" in areas that don't really matter so that they'll think
they still live in freedom. To sustain this fiction, government must unify with
the private sector to create "social control."
The Keynes philosophy and its consequences come into
clearer focus when you study what other economists have said, and realized that
Keynes was pointing us toward globally-aligned schools, a world bank, a single
worldwide currency, and world socialism, while the free-market, laissez-faire
economists whose ideas square better with what America is supposed to be,
including Milton Friedman and Ludwig von Mises, were getting drowned out by the
Big Government types.
Homework: Learn more about laissez-faire
economics and how school choice might improve educational outcomes for children
on www.vonmises.org and www.friedmanfoundation.org