And may the best system win

September 7, 2010

The beauty of free-enterprise economies is that what works wins. When government bureaucracies and government control are faced with decentralization and private competition, the latter two prevail. This week The New York Times provided readers with two examples of how free enterprise won the day in the field of education.

In an article published September 5, D.D. Guttenplan looks at how European universities’ fundraising efforts are increasingly conforming to those of American universities. Guttenplan notes that decades of “brain drain” to the United States from Europe is a result of American universities’ use of privately funded endowments as opposed to European universities’ use of limited state funding. While Europe is hampered by “ideological hostility” towards such free-market methods of funding, American schools continue to steal great minds from Europe, making American universities more competitive internationally. This is the benefit of embracing private competition.

In a separate article published September 6, Winnie Hu explores the recent development of “teacher-run schools” popping up in cities across the United States as a response to successes by charter schools. In the article Tim McDonald, an associate with Education Evolving, a policy group in St. Paul that supports teacher-led schools, says that like other professions given control of their own practices, when teachers are given more control over their school the results are “higher morale, less turnover, more efficient decision-making and greater motivation to improve.” These are the benefits of decentralizing government bureaucracies.

If private funding of schools can challenge Europe to change its ways, and charter schools can spur cities to decentralize their education systems, then why not embrace the free market in education?