The key problem with education…

…is that not everyone values it.

The cost-benefit that sells publicly provided “free” (to the user) education is that there are lots of benefits to living in an educated society. That’s probably true.

But, for someone to receive (or become educated) a free education, they must value it. The subtle assumption that the free education logic rests on is that everyone values education enough to willingly receive it.

It’s hard to imagine why anyone wouldn’t want it.

Yet each of us have plenty of things that we value so little that we wouldn’t want it even if it were free, even things that others value highly.

What do we do when we are given things we don’t value? We give them away, throw them away or pass. A rock music fan will turn down free tickets to the orchestra. A Diet Pepsi drinker passes on a free Coke.

But few people seem to understand this. So, if there are bad schools, it has to be that we can’t fire the bad teachers…or the teachers don’t try hard enough…or there’s some cultural barrier…etc.

It can’t be that the students and parents in those bad schools simply don’t value education that much.

Of course, when they don’t care, all the other problems above occur and are then mistaken for the cause. Bad teachers tend to go to schools where the parents won’t complain about them, for example. When parents don’t care, it’s easier for school boards and administration to become corrupt.

If we’re really interested in fixing failing schools, I think it’s important to start addressing why some people don’t value it.

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