Government education vs. the free market

I often write about the need for free market forces in our education system. The problem is that in a heavily-socialized, unionized system like K-12 education, market forces are a foreign concept.

Given this reality, it is hard to understand how good education COULD be. But, as Mark Perry points out on Jay Greene’s blog, we have myriad products available in the marketplace that have grown better and cheaper over time. Don’t believe me? Check the post.

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8 Replies to “Government education vs. the free market”

  1. In the more than 12 years I have lived in Albuquerque, I can recall NO major changes at APS. Maybe the district should be split into an East Side and West Side School districts to foster some competition, thus improvements.

    1. This is a non-sequitur. Nothing in the world is “free” in the sense that you can’t get something for nothing. A free market simply means that people are by and large left to do what they wish as long as they don’t directly harm others.

    2. Andrew,

      Let’s explain it in terms that even the President might understand:

      Free-markets are those markets which remain “free” of obstructions and interference. This in-turn makes them the most efficient markets, and, it allows for free individuals to make free decisions that are the product of free choice.

  2. Um, Andrew: Maybe you should research the definition of the Free Market before commenting. A market free of government interventions/coercion is referred to as a Free Market.

  3. Article below is an iceberg tip of why education is corrupt:
    American labor unions continue to play a significant role in our society. In better times or at least past times, unions contributed solutions for many issues including 1911 laws passed in response to the Triangle Shirtwaist Co. Fire that killed 146 workers in New York, the eight-hour workday and others. Any large group representation is diverse and early unions flirted with everything from seeking more pay and benefits to later pursuing Socialist/Marxist interests led by John Sweeney (AFL-CIO) starting in 1995. Where power and money exist, corruption follows and organized labor is no exception as organized labor shifted their agenda to the far-left.
    As a young, politically naive engineering graduate, my first assignment at a New Mexico power plant provided an initial experience I never forgot. With a role as a project manager on salary, I was working long hours on-site estimating and coordinating plant changes. In estimating a large valve replacement, I was promptly reminded that while one craftsman could ‘practically’ change the valve, union rules dictated several other roles would be required inflating labor, material and handling cost substantially. I was now informed on how to play the game and what ‘featherbedding’ meant.
    Working into the evenings, I ate my modest sack lunch in the site office. After a few nights, the trade guys noticed me and took sympathy with my ambitious schedule and humble dinners. They introduced me to their dinners, prepared by an on-site Chef, with menu items including rib-eye or T-Bone steak prepared to your desire and ALL the trimmings that would rival anyone’s Thanksgiving dinner! WOW, I was missing out as they offered to ‘take care’ of me. I was instructed that I could order double or triple items, extra fresh made pie and don’t forget the toppings! This was only one of the reasons we had to ‘adjust’ cost projections to reflect field conditions.
    While I appreciated the dinners, I was slowly indoctrinated into where the power base was leveraged. As I matured and my career evolved, I quickly took offense to the unnecessary waste, manipulation and very questionable processes regarding organized labor. As a young engineer, I had a long way to go to get anywhere close to the benefits that the trades enjoyed. As an experienced engineer it’s clear I may never get there, plus I have many more examples to back my distrust and long history of collective bargaining and unions. Life is definitely not fair, but unions have long exceeded any positive contribution to society and now focused on self-serving agendas that benefit an overt socialist direction.
    Further confirming what I saw on the surface, one of my friends had long carried the Union ‘cause’, defending them at every turn. In the last few years, my friend’s support has quickly evaporated and after experiencing (and sharing) many more stories of internal corruption now has an open mind to better see the darker side and damage done. Despite our current administration and main stream media’s best efforts, there are many Americans that can see past the rhetoric, corruption and partisan influence of organized labor, which now includes many union members.
    Recent public comments by Mr. Hoffa and the President’s reluctance to distance the integrity of the White House from those comments speak to the dire situation we are in. Wisconsin’s recent budget battles by tackling public collective bargaining issues are also indicative of a strong current to expose the partisan power wielded by unions and their use as a wealth distribution vehicle in support of a progressive initiative (see “Shadow Government” by David Horowitz).
    Progressives (and the DNC) are aligned with Socialist leaning and outright Communist groups and are heavily or almost entirely dependent on the resources funneled from organized labor, which is why many Conservative thinking union members are more and more concerned about where their dues are being utilized. Organized labor has long been infected and has resulted in a cancer that now needs to be promptly dealt with to reduce inflated spending and Big Government! Big labor is backed by the very powerful, ‘Progressive Caucus’ in D.C.
    LAWS / EXAMPLES :
     1931 Davis-Bacon Act Requires ‘Prevailing Wages’ are paid for Federal Public works projects over $2,000. Per the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, this act inflates federal construction project and spending by 15%+
     1935 Wagner Act gives unions the power to FORCE membership and/or fees as a condition of employment.
     1937 President Roosevelt refers to Government unionism as “the Hitler methods towards labor”, and states in a letter, “All Government employees should recognize that collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into public service”. FDR also states that it would be “unthinkable and intolerable” for public servants to take advantage of their monopolistic control of vital services, yet there are many examples of these acts in current and past history.
     1939-1941 Hitler-Stalin Act, Communist unions go on strike hoping to keep the U.S. from going to war.
     1947 Taft-Hartley Act where Congress reduced over-reaching power given in 1935 during the Great Depression.
     1956 U.S., Private sector union membership rises to a peak at 35%, even higher in construction fields.
     1959 Wisconsin is the 1st State to allow Government unions. Prior to that there were only 15 Government strikes. By 1980, 37 States allowed Government unions, while unions remain responsible for 536 public strikes.
     1962-1963 A RISE in Teacher’s union collective bargaining coincides with a significant slump in SAT scores. Why?
     1976 President Carter, endorsed by NEA, stakes labor’s entry into big politics and the pay back is the Department of Education, where an NEA official stated, “we’re the only Union with our on Cabinet Department”
     1977 Aboud v. Detroit Board of Education, Court rules that Government-employee unions could not use compulsory (forced) member dues for political purposes completely unrelated to their (3) core union functions.
     1980 Prince George County High-Security Jail, Maryland. AFSCME union members walk-off their jobs, leaving 200 prisoners to cause $50k damage while guards picketed. This is a good example of what to expect from public unions.
     1981 Robert Poli of the Air Traffic Controllers Union States, “The only illegal strike is an unsuccessful strike”, who learned otherwise as President Reagan ‘schooled’ Poli and his Union with a firm, justified response.
     1988 Communication Workers of America v. Beck, the Court ruled the same rules for private sector Unions.
     John Sweeney (AFL-CIO, President 1995) joined the DSA (Democratic Socialists of America), ‘the largest SOCIALIST organization in the United States’, rejecting ‘economic order sustained by private profit’.
     ‘Forced Union’ States have the legal power to force workers to pay dues as a condition of employment. If workers resign their membership, they still are forced to pay union ‘Fees’. There is no free choice here!
     1993-1995- Research the details between the Clinton’s and Laborers International Union of North America, Arthur Coia, Teamsters Local 560 and Genovese family member/union boss, ‘Tony Pro’ Provenzano. This is extraordinary!
     1996 poll (by Luntz Research) 80% of union workers not aware of the ‘Beck’ Court decision. Unions not likely to promote this detail and in fact work (lobby) to keep this information and their union members in the dark.
     Jaime Escalante (Movie: Stand & Deliver), an advanced Math teacher in East-LA was forced out of job by his ‘United Teachers of Los Angeles’ union for displaying initiative and producing exemplary student and extraordinary results!
     1996, Democratic National Committee (DNC) Official Rob Engel requests AFL-CIO Official Steve Rogers review/approval of DNC budgets/programs, then requests contributions from congressional district campaigns. The DNC = Unions!
     National Education Association (NEA), may be the largest U.S. union and supports issues like: Sexual Diversity, Reproductive Freedom, Freeze of Nuclear weapons, Handgun regulations, D.C. Statehood, Single-pay Healthcare, U.S. funding of the United Nations, dietary supplements, Sudan issues and legitimacy of the Boy Scouts? Really?
     2000 Big union backed Presidential politics by providing an estimated 100,000 volunteers, tens of millions of dollars, not including over $128,000,000 from union PAC’s. Again, DNC = Unions!
     National Assessment of Educational Progress (NEAP), found that on a 4th grade reading test; 63% of African-Americans, 58% Hispanics and 60% of poverty designated children were illiterate?
     2001, 9/11 AFL-CIO affiliate union shamelessly exploited a National disaster to force union membership. (on 9/13, Sen. Kennedy wastes no time trying to push the ‘Public Safety Employer Cooperation Act’).
     2001 D.C. schools spent $13,335/student as the highest cost in the Nation, yet touted a 42% drop out rate.
     2002, US Dept. of Labor, Office of Labor Management Standards, State that unions take in close to $17Billion / Year in compulsory (forced) dues, where as little as 20% is used for their core union functions.
     2003, Indirect contributions of mail campaigns, phone banks and get-out-the vote initiatives by the SEIU operatives (salary/expenses paid by unions) backed an extensive ‘defeat Bush’ campaign to the tune of $35,000,000.
     2003 US Private sector union membership drops to 8.2%. Construction membership dropped to 16%, but public union membership rises to 37% of all public employees, making up 46% of union in order to bolster their funding.
     Union members, like the general population vote 40-54% Republican, despite evidence indicating a disproportionate amount of resources to Progressive causes. Select ’progressive’ issue support is reported as high as 87%.
     2003 NM Governor Bill Richardson pushed through a law for all State/County/City/School Board entities to recognize unions as collective bargaining agents, whether workers or voters wanted it or not! Projects can now cost 15% more.
     2004 AFSCME president Gerald McEntee stated “we are better at playing politics than ever before”, while planning to register 500,000 voters in several Stated like New Mexico using the front group ‘Voices for Working Families’
     Wonder why the NEA does NOT support vouchers? Research proposition 174 in California and other States.
     The NEA spent $218M to kill voucher programs in MI, AZ & CA in 2000. In poor urban districts teachers send their kids to private schools in these proportions: Boston 44%, Cleveland 39%, San Francisco 36% as a sample.
     NEA does support, “legislation allowing parents to opt their children out of all mandated standardized tests, without penalties for students, parents, teachers or schools”. Wonder why?
     Other teachers like Jaime Escalante require additional research and study, like: Susan LaVine/Illinois, Charles Sciambi, CA or a few, young teachers in Mount Clemens, MI at Martin Luther King Academy. Research the details for yourself!
     December 2011, Wisconsin, North Cape School District votes to disband the union! After over a year of drama, protests and union strong-arming, one District takes decisive, logical action as their former union president states:
    “In the 30-some years we were part of the (American Federation of Teacher’s union) AFT, we never had to use their services. There were never any grievances that warranted that.” Former union president Becky Seitz, explained that they found it unnecessary for each teacher to pay $50/month (or $18,000 for a 30-year career).
    SANCTIONED VIOLENCE:
     The National Institute for Labor Relations Research shows 2,193 incidents of union violence between 1991 and 2001. Since 1975, they show over 9000 reports of violence, with 8,799 documented violent acts in support of their agenda.
     Since 1975 only 1,963 arrests and 258 convictions have been found! That’s only 3%. Wonder why?
    Clearly, the U.S. can no longer afford anything that does not provide a ‘value added’. Unions have outlived their use and need to be kept in check!
    WHAT CAN WE DO?
    Support the following topics, including items from Linda Chavez’ book, “BETRAYAL”:
     The Democrat Party is ’owned’ by the unions. If you are a Democrat, change parties to anything else! Send them a signal that enough is enough. Be wary of Republicans seeking union favor as well.
     Vote to give workers the ‘Right to Work’! Freedom and freedom of choice is worth fighting for!
     Remove special privileges abused by labor leaders. Forced membership and dues is a start!
     Stop unions from spending member’s dues on politics without their permission! Open the books.
     Repeal laws allowing unions to force added costs on taxpayers (Davis-Bacon Act)
     Provide workers flexibility that unions will not give them, where FLSA provides protection.
     Mandate that workers are allowed to select options outside of unions, eliminating union fees!
     STOP union-paid organizers from pressuring workers to unionize. NO card-check!
     Vote to have union books open for transparency, accountability and available for audit.
     Support removal of Big Labor’s license to commit violent acts. Over 9,000 since 1975!

  4. Jerry’s analysis is a the least short-sighted, and at worst propaganda. Name me a more affluent country, like Northern European countries, Germany, Holland, etc, or Japan or Australia; do they have strong unions? Yes, and higher per capita income and longer lives. Show me a poor country and I’ll show you weak unions or none: Mexico, Africa, S.E Asia. Why? Because unions represent the majority, i.e. workers. Jerry may think that he didn’t deserve to eat well, that you need to be a “successful” boss or owner. Not true Jerry. EVERYONE deserves to eat well- especially if the company is making millions or billions off you labor. Bosses want to COMODIFY education, meaning children. No successful country does that. Sure the bosses want to squeeze drop of production while paying the least and treating people with contempt; THAT’S WHY THEY FORMED UNIONS!! (Jerry, I don’t believe you are really a worker)

    1. Sorry Rick, it is not nearly as simple as you claim. Check out this report on union membership for several European nations. From looking at it, I’d say union membership is unrelated to economic prosperity. But, every nation has different laws relating to unions.

      What I’d compare is US states. Heavy union states are losing population and jobs to states with weak unions.

      This is a long-term economic trend, but it is much easier to analyze given the consistency of US labor law (and other national economic policies) as opposed to the massive policy and cultural differences seen even within Europe.

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