Cultural Revolutions

A Hot Topic

Education is a hot topic this election year, and both Al Gore and George W. Bush are trying to claim the mantle of the "Education President." To listen to the two campaigns, Texas either has the worst public schools in the nation, or the best; the media should be able to determine which campaign's claims are closer to the truth, but they're more interested in reporting the debate than in providing voters with the facts. One point on which both Gore and Bush seem to agree, however, is that public education is woefully underfunded: Bush has proposed sinking millions of new dollars into Head Start (among other failed programs), while Gore has promised to continue the Clinton administration's plan to get every child in America hooked up to the Internet. No matter which one wins, the Department of Education is here to stay, and the federal role in education is certain to increase.

With federal intervention, of course, comes greater regulation of education and more federal spending. Although many conservatives have argued that there is some sort of metaphysical difference between spending tax dollars on education and using private money—government spending inevitably corrupts, while private funds lead to nothing but goodness and light—there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that increased spending (both public and private) is part of the problem of American education, not its solution.

The...

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