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Who matters in education, the learners or the people who get paychecks from schools? As one of the most eminent economists of education has written, "The education system is a formalised, bureaucratic organisational structure and, like any bureaucratic organisational structure, it strives for maximum autonomy from external pressures as its cardinal principle of survival. While ostensibly devoted to the education of children, teachers, school administrators and local education officers must nevertheless regard parents acting on behalf of children as a force to be kept at bay because parental pressures in effect threaten the autonomy of the educational system. . . . I would hold that the stupefying conservatism of the educational system and its utter disdain of non-professional opinion is such that nothing less than a radical shake-up of the financing mechanism will do much to promote parental power." -- Mark Blaug, "Education Vouchers--It All Depends on What You Mean," in Economics of Privatization, J. Le Grand & R. Robinson, ed. (1985).

If learners have power to shop, because funding flows to learners rather than to institutions, all the change we need to provide better education will happen through the usual process of learners shopping for what works. Until learners have power to shop, there is little prospect for meaningful improvement in education. Public choice theory





in political science predicts that interest groups who gain a paycheck from the current system will fight harder to protect the current system from change than will voters in general who might benefit from changes in policy. So it takes a rare degree of political leadership by elected officials, or rather unusual coalitions of voters, to change a system that provides employment to as many employed people as the current education system does.

Econtalk is part of econlib. Its a nice podcast that talks about this problem alot. Here are some nice ones that are relevant. There are many more that talk about public choice.

Public Choice:




P.S. Here a old TV show by Milton Friedman on Schools (RIP). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLVIrmG6Ysk (There is always a documentery first and then the last third of it is disscution between friedman and others, thats probebly the most intressting part)

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