In response to the 10/31/2012 post, “Pretty Lies and Powerful Truths – Part 3,” a reader writes:

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Certainly Milton Friedman is a brilliant economist.  I would point out two things in regard to Friedman:  one, being brilliant does not automatically equate to being right.  Two, it is quite possible Friedman’s ideas have been hijacked and twisted by a far right agenda. 

I am not necessarily anti-voucher, but I think we need a true discussion of the intended and unintended outcomes.  I for one am tired of the legislature passing bills to see what is in them.  Bill Hammond recently stated that if public dollars in the form of vouchers go to private schools then the private schools should be held to state accountability standards.  Of course one could see that one coming from a mile a way.  So what is the effect? 

Well, one could argue that private schools would begin to operate much like public schools do today, with a much increased emphasis on high stakes testing.  Indeed the introduction of the voucher into the private education setting acts like an infectious disease, altering the function and structure of private education.  Interestingly in such a scenario the introduction of the voucher then ultimately limits choice as government restrictions and bureaucracy forces private education into a mirror image of public education.  Interesting ideas discussed here: http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-269.html years ago.

As to higher education, we should contrast some similarities and differences with K-12 education.  One, we have no constitutional right to a higher education.  Two, choice cuts both ways in higher education: students pick their school, but more importantly institutions of higher education get to pick their students. Three, we should look real carefully at government money and its effect on higher education.  For example, what has the infusion of Pell Grants accomplished in higher education?  Certainly the cost has not gone down.  Universities simply raised tuition knowing full well that students could afford it because they had “free” money.  The government’s response has been to raise Pell Grant amounts.  The universities’ response: raise tuition even more. 

In this way grants and vouchers are similar: if vouchers can be used in private schools, does anyone really believe the private schools won’t raise tuition?  After all it is simple supply and demand: if demand goes up because people have a voucher in their hands seemingly putting private education within their reach, that does not change the fact that there are only so many seats in private schools, therefore tuition goes up.

Interesting discussions.  One thing I love about the LYS Nation is that it keeps forces me to think and rethink.

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