Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Education Views: Homogenity versus Heterogeneity of screwing kids up

I'll admit, its a rather wordy and pompous title, even by my standards. However I can't think of anything catchier.

I was discussing education with a coworker, and we had a disagreement over whether the federal government should have a role in it. He was all for a nationally dictated minimal curriculum. I, of course want to abolish the federal department of education and leave it as a state issue. Long term I'd like to abolish all the public schools, but the private and charitable infrastructure is not available to deal with such a radical move at the moment.

As we talked, it became apparent that similar motives and opposite views were driving us to our opposing stances. He didn't trust the state governments of other states to provide good education. I don't trust the federal government, or any of the state governments to handle education. In both cases, the concern was not for our kids (the kids he has now, and kids I might someday have), but for other kids.

The heart of his argument is that the federal government would do a good job of not screwing up kids too much. It would prevent some states from teaching Creationism. It would set reasonable achievement levels for reading and math. Individual states could hold their students to higher standards if they wanted.

The heart of my argument is any education gets something wrong. Rather than have a nation of people all with the same incorrect views on some topic, lets take steps to ensure that everyone is wrong about different things. In other words, if everyone is screwed up differently, market forces will weed out the incorrect ideas quicker.