Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Milton Friedman on Unions (and Education In General)

The traitorous Los Angeles Times has an interesting little story about a reporter's (and blogger's, I think) meeting with economist Milton Friedman.

"The fundamental thing that's wrong with our present setup of elementary and secondary schooling is that it's a case in which the government is subsidizing a product," he says. "If you subsidize the producers, as we do in schooling, they have every incentive to have a status quo, and a non-progressive system, because they are a monopoly."

Some won't like this:

"It's very clear that the people who suffer most in our present system are people in the slums — blacks, Hispanics, the poor, the underclass."

When I ask him about the "achievement gap" separating low-scoring black and Latino students from better-scoring whites and Asians, he blames my "friends in the union."

"They are running a system that maximizes the gap in performance…. Tell me, where is the gap between the poor and rich wider than it is in schooling?"

Go read the whole thing.


EllenK said...

While I can see that some programs, especially the Free Lunch Program, are ripe for exploitation, I think that some of the blame HAS to go to the parents and the kids themselves. We've built a society that assumes a safety net for every possible situation, especially education. Life isn't like that. Competition exists for a reason. You don't want just any old doctor doing your open heart surgery. You don't want just any old engineer designing a tunnel. Yet modern culture wants to mitigate competition and eliminate winners and losers. Face it, in life there are such things. Until education accepts that, and makes kids and parents realize that the ultimate decision is theirs, things are just going to keep going the same way.

EllenK said...

You might be interested in my little rant regarding Bumper Bowling and its impact on education and society.