Jonah Goldberg finds “conservative complaints about Barack Obama’s public-schools hypocrisy…all a bit tedious.” Well, aside from my not having actually seen many conservatives complaining about Obama choosing a private school for his kids while telling the rest of us to support public schools, I find arguments like Goldberg’s main one tedious. Very tedious. Like, we-should-just-keep-trying-to-force-excellence-out-of-socialism tedious.
Here’s the meat of Goldberg’s contribution to education reform:
The real issue is why the public schools are unacceptable to pretty much anyone, liberal or conservative, who has other options.
His culprit, talk about tedious:
Teachers unions, arguably the single worst mainstream institution in our country today.
Now, I’m sure not going to tell you the teachers unions aren’t a pain. They are. But they are not our root education problem in any way, shape or form. The root problem is that we have a system in which no one has a choice – that’s right, boring ol’ “choice” – about financing a government education monopoly, and there is little competition, innovation, or anything else decent as a result.
Oh, and why does Goldberg think the unions have so much power, anyway? Surely he knows that private-sector unions have been disintegrating for decades while their public-sector cousins keep going strong. That’s because no one can choose not to fund the public sector – unless, that is, they enjoy time behind bars – while industries that are disciplined by consumer choice simply can’t afford efficiency-crushing unions.
So let’s get one thing straight. School choice – especially universal school choice – is not some boring cop-out that dull folks reflexively whimper about because they’ve got nothing better to say. No, it is the essential ingredient to getting an education system that actually works, and no amount of pooh-poohing it for the sake of excitement, giggles, seeming cool, or whatever, can change that.