When I was first learning economics, I was surprised by how pro-communist many economics textbooks were. I don’t mean, of course, that any economics textbook ever said, “Communism is good.” What I mean, rather, is that textbooks were very positive relative to communism’s historical record. Indeed, many seemed deeply ignorant of actual communism, basing their assessment on second-hand information about communists’ stated intentions, plus a few anecdotes about inefficiencies. Many textbook authors were, in a phrase, communist dupes: Non-communists who believe and spread a radically overoptimistic image of communism.
At least that’s what my admittedly flawed memory says.
This homeschool year, I’m prepping my sons for the Advanced Placement tests in Microeconomics and Macroeconomics. Our primary text is Cowen and Tabarrok, which includes accurately horrifying details about life under communism. But we’re also working through all the test prep books. And while skimming the Princeton Review’s Cracking the AP Economics, bad textbook memories came flooding back to me. It’s mostly a normal econ text, but here’s what it tells us about communism:
Critics of the proposed policy to expand private school choice in the United States argue that the government must fund and control schooling since it is a “public good.” This may sound accurate, as we label some schools as “public” and some as “private.” Since we have public schools, schooling must be a public good, right?
The Economic Definition
However, what does “public good” even mean? A public good, according to the economic definition, must satisfy two conditions: 1.) nonrival in consumption, and 2.) non-excludable. In other words, one person consuming the good will not reduce another’s ability to consume the good, and those controlling the good are unable to exclude those that do not pay.
Schooling fails both parts of the definition.
Why Schooling Fails the Requirements
In a recent Washington Post article, author Sarah Hamaker described how many young adults no longer know how to do simple, basic skills:
Colleges and employers alike are reporting that young people can’t do life’s most basic tasks. With all of our emphasis on academics and what it takes to get into college, essential life skills such as how to do laundry, balance a checking account, or cook a meal, have been overlooked.
Hamaker goes on to give several recommendations about the types of basic skills that parents should teach at certain stages of their child’s life:
skills such as reading labels, using kitchen utensils, fending for himself, and taking care of others.
I was giving a talk at Florida Gulf Coast University the other night near Fort Myers when I noticed a flyer on the door of the lecture hall. The sign (I wish I had gotten a picture now) read: “PARENT FREE ZONE.”
Rather than schools acting in loco parentis, parents act in loco scholis (in place of the school at home), tasked with enforcing the dictates of the school.
I chuckled at first, thinking it was more of a tongue-in-cheek joke to new freshmen who were used to having their parents around. Then my stomach sank when I had the realization that it probably wasn’t a joke.
Chances are that this sign had to be put up — not because the instructors in the classroom wanted to make a joke but because they had been harassed by parents who find it necessary to involve themselves in the academic lives of their adult children.
Recently I learned that long time economist Thomas Sowell is retiring from his position as a syndicated columnist. Curious, I flipped through an archive of his many columns and stumbled on one entitled Education: Then and Now, written in early 2006.
One paragraph in particular caught my eye. Like many of the older generation, Sowell notes that the education he received in the New York Public School system of the 1940s was stellar and well-rounded, a far cry from that experienced by children enrolled in the New York Public Schools of the late twentieth century:
In recent years, a number of Americans have been awakening to the realization that today’s children are not receiving a high-quality education. The nation’s test scores in everything from reading to science are evidence of that.
But while many Americans now recognize what a good education is not, many are unsure exactly what it is.
Former New York school teacher of the year John Taylor Gatto once answered that question in his book Weapons of Mass Instruction. According to Gatto, the sign of a well-educated mind is one that can make connections and is connected to four different things:
Photo by: Elise Amendola
Alyssa Leader, a recent Harvard graduate, listens while flanked by her attorneys Alex Zalkin, left, and Irwin Zalkin at a news conference, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016, in Cambridge, Mass., about the filing of a Title IX civil lawsuit on her behalf alleging the university failed to adequately protect her and investigate complaints of sexual assault, harassment and retaliation. Leader says she was sexually assaulted between March 2013 and March 2014 on campus while she was a student at Harvard. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
A group of 21 law professors issued a public letter Monday protesting the U.S. Department of Education’s expanded interpretation of Title IX, which they said is chilling campus free speech and curtailing student due-process rights. The letter takes issue with a set of regulations unilaterally imposed by the agency’s Office of Civil Rights, mandating how colleges…
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It was June 26, 2015. A seismic shift occurred at the very foundations of this country, which will hold profound implications for the family, freedom and family freedoms in particular. Christian families are just now waking up to the reality of what happened.
Do you like freedom? Is it a value to you and your family? We believe freedom is a value worth fighting for. And the 2016 elections provide a key opportunity we may not see again for a long time. We have a shot at restoring freedoms, and thatís why the timing couldnít be better for the Freedom 2015 National Religious Liberties Conference on November 6-7, in Des Moines, IA.
Our Freedoms are Under Attack Big Time
According to Chief Justice John Roberts, the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage holds ìno comfort for religious peoples in this nation. Christian businesses will be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for not participating in homosexual weddings.
Check†out†the Ultimate Homeschool Freedom Giveaway at the bottom of this post to win a $1,500 family trip, one of 12 Heritage Defense and home education legal defense memberships and more!
Lawsuits and criminal trials will proliferate against Christian pastors, Christian accountants, Christian landlords, and Christian schools. Christian employees will no doubt lose their jobs. Christian chaplains and Christian armed forces personnel are highly vulnerable now.