Public Education

In this thread we discussed the advantages and disadvantages of a public health service. Comparisons to publicly funded education were brought up several times but an an attempt to we suppress false analogies the subject was never developed.

That thread now being pretty much dead my thoughts turned instead to eduction. So I put it to you: to what extent should education be publicly funded?

We seemed to establish that aynrandlover at least doesn’t agree totally with the principle of publicly funded education. I’m curious to know his arguments.

My opinion: an educated populace is of tremendous economic and sociological benefit to a country. To eloborate:[ul][li]Economic[/li]Monetarist theory states that in the long run we can only improve the output of our economy by improving one of the fundamental “non-economic” inputs, e.g. land, population, technology. Education and skills of the workforce fall into this category. If we want real economic growth we better educate! Removing the education for those who would otherwise not be able to afford it is not in accordance with this principle.

[li]Sociological[/li]It simply makes me happier to live an a more educated world. I can be as educated as I like, but unless I have people to share it with the use of my education is limited. Aside from this general educational level, culturally I need educated people to learn from and enjoy. Technologically I need educated people to develop things that make my life more interesting. And so on. We can never predict who will be successful in these fields, so it makes sense to educate everyone.[/ul]In an effort to avoid isolating people from joining the debate I’ll stop there. Let the games commence.


Well, you won’t get much of a debate from me. I think education is critically important and should be made available to all. In cases where an individual demonstrates a gift in a certain area, he/she should be sponsored (scholarships) and encouraged to continue.

I believe that there are geniuses nestled among us. The next Einstein or Newton might be from the poor family down the block and it would be a shame, not only for the individual, but also for society as a whole if that person never realized his/her full potential because he/she couldn’t afford the education.

So there.

oops… sorry I forgot something…

One thing I will debate is that education leads to more happiness. I would argue the opposite is true. The process of getting educated fosters a critical, analytical thinking process. A state of mind that hardly leads to satisfaction.

Ever hear the saying “ignorance is bliss”?

I think that’s one of the wisest things I’ve ever come across.

I don’t know about this. What about all the lunkheads who appear on the Jerry Springer Show, cursing and yelling and throwing things at each other? Do they seem especially blissful?

Not a public education:)

Ahhh, the bane of my existence: public education. That doesn’t mean I hate it though.

I just don’t feel everyone deserves an education. I at least see evidence that free education is not appreciated. My first beef with public education is that it is public. I’m sure most of you know I’m not into the whole “public” anything. But leaving that aside, even, it isn’t a matter of merely providing health care when you need it, its a matter of forcing you to visit the doctor if you see what I mean.
Children are required to attend lessons. This is a little brutish IMO, even for a social program. I don’t like that at all. At least we don’t require college as a law (yet).
That is, if education is so good then simply providing it should be enough. People would want their children to attend. Forcing people to attend school smacks of propoganda, and I’ve read enough history books to give a little credence to that as well.

Well, I am not a master of Econ my any means, but I feel like I have a decent grasp of some general concepts and welcome corrections if I don’t. But public education has one strange pitfall economically: it fosters extreme job-market competition.
That is, speaking strict econ workers are a commodity. They are bought and sold through salaries. In a completely pivate education environment only the moderate-to largely wealthy will attend school. There would be, most likely, few scholoarship programs. This would tend to maintain a very segregated population of proles vs bourgeois. In fact, economic growth itself would be rather slow. I think we’ve seen enough evidence of this historically. In this case, physical labor is very cheap because workers are a dime a dozen. Technological people, on the other hand, are in very limited quantity and can then demand high salaries, further maintaining the divide. The only way out of this loop is to promote cheaper or free education to a larger number of people. I feel this would happen anyway without government interference but it would at least be a loooong time coming.[sup]1[/sup]
Obviously the government is pretty much the only entity which can do this if we want it done quickly. This leads to public education. We build a ton of schools, outlay curriculum, hire teachers (who themselves must be schooled). In one or two generations we can have a sytem set up.

Now, if private education was expensive before its cost can only rise relative to the owner, but the cost to the educatee must drop to keep it worth the extra investment. That is, the government is actually competing on the free market with private investors/individuals/organizations.

However, it is not in doubt that private schools are largely better than most public ones, and that is because of another peculiarity of public vs private institutions: competition for resources. The resources in this case are the teachers. There is no theoretical limit to the salary of a private institution’s teachers while the government sets standards nationwide (there might be adjustments relative to the area, of course, but when adjusted they should be fairly uniform). This gives private institutions the edge. Their recourse against public competing with private is to attempt to hire the best teachers (else private schools would have a significant disadvantage: one needs to pay for them!). This maintains a level of inferiority in public education, relatively speaking.

The upshot of this is rather far-reaching. It doesn’t eliminate the divide. If the problem we were hoping to solve was merely educating the populous to raise the rate of economic growth we have succeeded. However, if the problem we were hoping to solve was unfair distribution of talent and wealth we have failed and must always fail so long as there are private institutions.

The Job Market
So how has the job market changed? Well, apart from increasing our technology in general and accelerating growth we’ve fostered a larger employee base. We’ve increased the number of technical jobs required and we’ve increased the number of physical laborers required.

Physical labor is cheap. It requires little or no training and thus anyone (reasonably) can perform the task from the PhD to the high-school dropout. This makes the manual laborer, as a commodity, very high in supply and very low in demand and so we can expect that the wages paid to physical laborers to not increase significantly even after a broad education base.

As an extreme, consider all education to be public and available(all tax base, no loans). It is not entirely unreasonable to assume just about everyone will get at least a bachelors degree. What is the value of this bachelors degree? Not very much. The demand for people with bachelors degrees isn’t that great to warrant it. We’ve simply dumped money into educating a poulous that really can’t utilize the education we gave them. This is damaging two-fold. The person who spent time getting a bachelors degree should still be able to demand a somewhat higher salary, or at least be the more preferrable choice for employment, regardless of the position (say, janitor). What does this do to those not fit for getting a bachelors degree? If they were low before public education they are dirt now and are very much at the whim of charity and the state.

It is not conceiveable (IMO) that a society could ever reach a level of technology where physical labor is not a significant part of the work force. In this way, any society which promotes education exagerates the divide it was hoping to cure. Once we’ve started this path our only recourse is to further socialize the economy by supporting labor unions, public housing, public health care, public public public. Each step we turn over to the state further requires more things be turned over to the state because in every case the government is competing with private industry.

To stop this, education cannot be completely public. As it stands now we have a mix of public and private grade schools and colleges. As the demand for better education from public schools increase we are forcing the private schools down the path of snagging the better teachers (or fail as an institution) which sets an even higher floor on the persons who can afford to attend. In the end, the demand for equlity (while trying to keep a free market) makes an obscenely exaggerated split between the haves and the have-nots.

IMO, anyway. You cannot both regulate and let free an economy. A mixture of government competition and private industry within a particular industry can only force a segregation-by-wealth which is what we were hoping to eliminate in the first place.

relevant knowledge is power and some people want other people to be ignorant. it would be interesting to study how the public schools are being sabotaged but not my thing.

an inexpensive way to educate people would be to create a recommended reading list. classified by subject and depth. a paragraph describing what each book is about and why it’s on the list. authors and publishers can howl all they want, fuk’em. you want your book on the list, write a better book and yours will replace what’s on the list. i’m talking NON-FICTION, to hell with ‘moby dick’.

this way children and adults who WANT TO EDUCATE THEMSELVES don’t have to bother with stupid teachers and idiotic students.

of course some people are going to argue about what goes on the list, but they can alway make their own list.

we could have government testing by subject. get an Electrical Engineering degree just by home study and testing. you should see the electronic circuit simulators you can run on computers these days. who needs MIT? could build an equipped electronics shop for 1 years room and board. oscilloscope, digital voltmeters, stuff that didn’t exist 20 years ago. computerized circuit analyzers.

private education is just a racket to exclude the poor but intelligent. rich morons can become president.

Dal Timgar

Oh Lord. Where to begin?

Who, in your opinion, does NOT deserve an education, and how would society as a whole be better off if “undeserving” people didn’t receive one? Uneducated people, as a general rule, are a burden on society.

First of all, nobody is required to attend school; home schooling, as far as I know, is legal throughout the United States. Parents are required to provide their children with some sort of education, but whether the kids attend public, private, parochial, or home school is their own business. (Most parents do choose to have their children attend school, because they believe the school will do a better job educating their children than they can do at home.) And while the state may mandate that certain factual material must be taught at a certain grade level, it rarely if ever requires that all students be taught with a particular teaching method or philosophy. Where’s the propaganda in all this?

Actually, I’d say it’s very much in doubt – there are a hell of a lot of lousy private schools, and a lot of good public ones (though, sadly, they tend to be concentrated in high-income areas).

Er, public schools generally offer better teacher salaries and benefits than their private counterparts.

As for the rest of your argument, you’ve completely lost me. If private education were always (or even usually) better than public education, then yes, it would be true that the distribution of educational opportunities remains unfair. Nevertheless, how is it more unfair than it would be in a society where many people cannot afford schooling at all?

You also seem to be assuming that the only purpose of education is to equip people for work, and that manual laborers therefore don’t need any education. This is patently untrue. Leaving aside the fact that education often enhances one’s ability to enjoy life (dewt’s views to the contrary), the most menial laborer needs a significant body of “academic” knowledge to be a productive member of society. At the very least, people need to be able to read and write, manage their own finances, make decisions about health care, and vote intelligently. A society where a significant percentage of the populace (note the spelling!) cannot do these things is headed for some serious trouble.

Fret no more, my porcupine.
“Who, in your opinion, does NOT deserve an education, and how would society as a whole be better off if “undeserving” people didn’t receive one? Uneducated people, as a general rule, are a burden on society.”
Not one single person deserves an education. You were not born with some holy, divine right to have other people teach you stuff. It is a peverse world IMO which assumes otherwise. It is not the act of providing this education, you might note, that is suspect but the ideology behind it. “uneducated people” being a “burden” on society? In what way? I don’t understand this. Unless, of course, you find that you think they deserve to live, as well, free and clear. In that case the burden is great.

“First of all, nobody is required to attend school; home schooling, as far as I know, is legal throughout the United States…”
Thus, everyone is required to attend school[ing]. Unreal, isn’t it?

“And while the state may mandate that certain factual material must be taught at a certain grade level, it rarely if ever requires that all students be taught with a particular teaching method or philosophy.”
So you agree that the state sets minimums? I don’t understand.

“Actually, I’d say it’s very much in doubt – there are a hell of a lot of lousy private schools…”
I am suspect of this statement, but I only speak from knowing people who have attended public schools and people who have attended private ones. If you have any statistical data contrariwise please provide.

“Er, public schools generally offer better teacher salaries and benefits than their private counterparts.”
At what grade level, and are you serious? Starting wages, at least in the Cleveland area, for almost every teacher was about 25K. You could make that larger by taking on extra classes, but that’s a pittance after four plus years of education. Meanwhile, at 3000 a pop, a private school offering a teacher to student ratio of 1:20 could rake in 60K a class, offering the teacher a modest 30K without trying very hard.

“Nevertheless, how is it more unfair than it would be in a society where many people cannot afford schooling at all?”
It isn’t. It’s exactly the same level of “fairness” and all we’ve accomplished is allowing the government to compete with private industry, encouraged a wealth-division, and raised everyone’s taxes.

On public and private school teacher salaries:

In addition to the factors the NCES report mentions, private school teachers are rarely unionized, so they have no leverage with which they can demand a living wage. Moreover, most privately funded schools are hanging on by a thread and can’t afford to raise teacher salaries. The expense of running a school is far greater than you estimate. Your figures would have the school spending $1,500 per pupil per year, which is probably a third to a quarter of the amount schools actually spend. (Incidentally, I think it’s amusing that you consider 25K a pittance – I’m a graduate teaching fellow at a state university, and I wish I were making half that much.)

And yes, I do believe that uneducated people are a burden on society. What else would you call a person who can’t make an informed decision at the polls, can’t do math well enough to pay his or her taxes, or can’t fill out a job application? I am not arguing that there is a “holy, divine right” to an education, but in a complex society such as ours, it’s certainly less expensive than the alternative.

Please explain why you think the government is pushing any particular ideology by requiring children to receive a certain minimal level of education. As said in my previous post, it’s largely the parents who make the ideological decisions. They are free to send their kids to public schools, prep schools, Montessori schools, Jesuit schools, fundamentalist Christian schools, anywhere they like.

Wow, now I am fretting!

I’m not sure what to say in lieu of those links. Private teacher’s salaries are that low…that’s terrible! kabbes, you now see why the correlation between education and health care can’t be drawn…public education is apparently more expensive! :wink:

This is really a shock. Makes me sort of even more upset about the government competing in the market for teachers, but my hypothesis was all wrong.

Quite a few areas of discussion, but let’s start with this one:

ATQ though ARL. Who gets educated and who doesn’t? Little ARL is 4 years old. How do we decide whether he gets to be educated or not?

And yes, the uneducated are a burden. After all, if not then why are we all on this board? Educating means fostering a critical, questioning attitude. Without this anyone with an agenda can publish a newspaper and whip up a frenzy of hate against any group they choose. Social disorder can follow poor education like that (snaps fingers). Just think about our current respective countries - do more social problems exist in the poorly educated or well educated areas?

There - that’ll do for a start.


Cheers, mate. Our UK [work]visitors leave here today :frowning:

Anyway, “How do we decide…”
Answer: “we” don’t, I do. You do. We all do respectively, not collectively. It takes a village to raise a child?–so how come there’s an idiot in every village? (just hate folksy sayings) :wink:

Uneducated people are not a burden if we don’t want growth and a raised standard of living. It depends on what we want as a society. As well, remember that “what we want as a society” means, in practice, forcing people to follow your ideals, usually forcing the very group you will need the most from. Perhaps this is a two edged sword in that not forcing others to follow ideals is in and of itself and ideal. :shrug:

Incidentally, after receiving the fatal blow that was private institution’s salaries I contacted my teacher friend to talk to him about it. He made, first year teaching at the high school level, just under 30K (27?). At a private school he was considering he would have gotten around 16-18K. My jaw hit the floor. I wonder why anyone teaches there at all!
He felt that private schools have, of course, less dogmatic curriculum and such than public schools. As well he felt it was somewhat of a status symbol. The school provided free board, however, which is a decent perk though I don’t know if it is a $10,000 perk.

So anyway, we as a society determine that we want everyone educated. We come, then, to the conclusion that the quickest and easiest way to do this is to make education, at least in part, a public institution ran by the government. Fine. I still have some personal problems with that, but I don’t see it as an evil idea in and of itself.

Mandatory attendence is a little bit more murky IMO. This is starting to border on…well, I don’t know what. I don’t like the idea of being forced to do anything, even if I would be (at the time the law applied) to young to understand.