Evaluating vouchers
Posted by aogTuesday, 27 May 2003 at 07:26 TrackBack Ping URL
As I listent to various news reports and stories about vouchers, the biggest thing that bugs me is the double standard applied to government vs. privately run schools. In order for private management to be considered a "success" it must be the case that every private school is individually a success. If there are twenty private schools in a city and one is screwed up, then private management is declared a failure. The fact that the other 19 have improved the education of their children isn't relevant. On the other hand, if a city has twenty government schools then it is considered a success as long as one school is doing well. The fact that children in the other 19 are being handicapped by the lack of education is irrelevant.

Of course, the promotion of this double standard is done with specific intent. Someone who cared about the children and their education would ask whether more children were getting a better education. However, if one's goal is to preserve government control of the schools then perfection is a good choice for a criteria since, involving humans and all, it is not obtainable. What's interesting to me is how this standard has been established for private schools while not being established for government schools. That's the clever bit.

This is all an outgrowth of the "bucket of crabs" theory of improving society. For those comfortable with the status quo, requiring that any reform help everybody or nobody is an excellent way to appear morally pure while preventing change. We've seen the same thing with welfare reform – if the reform wouldn't make the lives of every single welfare recipient better then it was wrong to do. It's the ultimate rational of socialism, the equal sharing of misery – at least among the proles. Those who perform the noble duties of doling out the misery deserve some compensation for their selfless efforts, right?