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Friedman Fundamentals Discussion

Decentralizing Schools

What makes a decentralized education system more effective?


Standardized (centralized) school curriculums are stifling. The standardized system removes all personal agency from teachers and students. In this system teachers are like delivery drivers, having no say about what is being delivered or how. Similarly, students are taught to receive “knowledge”, not produce original thought. Without initiative or creativity these students can exist only as parrots in a world that is changing every single day. Their given knowledge becomes ever more obsolete as time goes on and they have no tools to refresh and increase their knowledge. Without their permission, students are molded into bureaucrats before they even know what bureaucracy is. Given freedom and agency, the mind of a child is incredibly inquisitive. Why would we employee something like standardized schooling to crush this vibrancy?

It seems that most people agree that channeling tax dollars into universal education provides a basic right and promotes societal well-being. Public finance makes this a public business of education. Where we err is in assigning the government the role of chief executive. The government is a vehicle for the public’s investment, no more. The government should do only what it is uniquely qualified to do: collect and distribute vast financial resources. At every level, education administration should seek only to channel the public investment in a way that empowers each student and their parental proxy.