Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Who monitors best? 

I'm still getting over the gelding thing at the bottom of Craig's editorial, but something else in his coverage of the Hann-Kelley debate over school vouchers got me going.
Kelly accused Hann of wanting to narrow public education to just the parent and student and leave out the broader benefits to society. He said that in a public system, all schools must be subject to "accountability mechanisms." All students must be measured to ensure that schools are accountable. He said the proposed legislation would give money to private schools but not hold them to the same level of accountability as public schools.

Yes, Steve, but does it hold private schools to a higher or lower level?

There are two issues at play. First, you have parents who may be able to monitor better the school's performance with their own child(ren). It's not that schools don't care but that the parent has better information on the child's response to education outside of the school. We don't need to assume that Kelley thinks parents are too stupid or uncaring to monitor their child's education. What he's assuming here is that the parent can't get better information on education outside the schoolyard than the government does inside. My experience is that this is not true.

And if he is saying parents don't care enough, well, you know what I think of Steve Kelley anyway.

Second, the parent and society at large will have broad parts of a child's education that they both would want the child to have. Governments need not monitor a child's education with tax dollars when the parent is happy to do it herself or himself. But there may be parts where the government wishes to put something into a child's education that the parent does not want. And here we are back to the old argument, whose kid is it anyway? Given my read of Senator Kelley, I think he believes governments have a compelling interest in a child's education to assert over parental rights, via the police power.

Pay attention, because that guy might run for U.S. Senate.