Sunday, November 30, 2008

Are Republicans more progressive than Democrats?

On the subject of education, perhaps the answer is "yes." When we talk about school vouchers, which are essentially government hand-outs given to allow parents to choose which school they think is best for their children, who do we in America usually think of?

If the answer you came up with is, "conservative Republicans," then of course you're right. At least it's true if you're only looking at America.

What if I told you that there are countries who have already implemented the use of school vouchers, and that it has been a great success in improving education for lower income students? Now what if I told you those countries included Sweden and the Netherlands?

Check out this article for all the details. To quote the article,

Curiously, the idea of using government money to help send children to private schools is considered [in America] a very right-wing, conservative notion. ... Thus we have the odd situation of liberals opposing a government hand-out that has the potential to mostly benefit the poor and minorities. Not very progressive of them.

This is exactly what I have come to believe about the issue of school choice. As someone who has more and more of a taste these days for social justice, I am still very much inclined to side with the "conservatives" on this issue, because school choice benefits those in need. It turns out that good old-fashioned conservative concept of competitive markets is what benefits lower-income students.

From the article:
59 per cent of Swedish parents think that teachers work harder when there is school choice.

Exactly. For one reason or another, Democrats in this country have been opposed to the idea of competition in the education business. But I hope that as more Democrats are exposed to the merits of school choice, things will start to change.

Imagine in a world in which private schools directly benefit the poor. I'm not sure whether that's a liberal or conservative idea. I just think it's a good idea.

By the way, what does our new progressive leader Barack Obama think about school choice?

Sadly, he opposes it.


  1. First, how did you add the "Reactions" tool? That's pretty neat.

    Secondly, your Obama link does not work.

    Thirdly, vouchers seem like a good idea, and that they make teachers work harder is intriguing. It always seems that competition in any area fuels improvement, but I tend to think that competition gets out of hands sometimes. I usually see competition in three phases: monopoly, free market, oligarchy. I guess I want some sort of equality-driven competition so that the product (education, laptops, whatever) always improves but a clear "winner" never emerges. Like a perpetual marathon of sorts.

  2. I don't know, I just found the "reactions" tool somewhere on my dashboard options. Under layout or something.

    I fixed the Obama link. I hope it works for you now.

    I know what you mean about competition. The real goal is to get the best quality. Sometimes, though, it's just good in principle to give power into the hands of the consumer. Whenever you have someone telling you what you have to consume, chances are the system is either inefficient, unjust, or both. That's the way it is with teachers: the government essentially tells us what we must purchase as consumers of education. I think the system as we have it is at the very least inefficient, probably even unjust when viewed from the perspective of poor people who can't find good education.

    That's just my thought on the subject.


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