Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Let Parents Choose

Cato Institute's Casey Lartigue makes a compelling argument, In Parents We Trust, for letting parents choose their child's school--even though some parents will be poor choosers.

In addition to all of the scholarly reasons educators and others give for why they fear parents having power over how their children are educated, here's one not discussed: everyone has relatives.

People can all think of a relative or friend who either is a bad parent or makes bad decisions in other aspects of their lives. And we can be sure that the relative or friend will become no more intelligent once he or she has a school voucher.

But the fact that some parents make bad decisions doesn't defeat the argument for school choice. Instead of being forced to send their children off to the local public schools, parents would be better off with several options. Many of us may lament as we stand in a grocery store that there are 52 brands of dishwashing powder or liquid, but few of us would like it if the only "choice" were the government brand. Restricting choice because there might be mistakes brings to mind what philosopher Herbert Spencer said in 1891: "To protect people from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools."

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