Education Paternalists: Choice Is Only for Us


Googled “paternalism” and found this – seemed appropriate!

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Education paternalists are bending over backwards to shame philanthropists who support school choice, and they show their true colors as the new Bull Connor. Check this out:

“Choice makes sense to so many of us in positions of privilege, who direct philanthropic investments and public policy. Markets have worked for us: we have the financial and social capital to choose the supermarket we want to shop in, the kind of work we want to do or where we want to live,” [Lori Bezahler] writes. “However, unless we examine the relationship between privilege and access to markets, we will ignore the constraints that many families face in a market driven education system.”

Therefore, she concludes, those who are not elites should not be given a choice!

If government is going to expand access to services for the poor – as it sometimes should, and education is one of those cases – giving them a subsidy and then sending them into the marketplace is precisely the way to break down “privilege” and elevate the poor to equal standing. The contrasting models here are food stamps or Section 8 housing vouchers (which allow the poor to walk into the same marketplace as everyone else and get served as a customer alongside everyone else) versus public housing or government-run medical “insurance” cartels (which trap the poor in an alternate universe, cut off from the mainstream cultural world within which that precious “social capital” Bezahler claims to be worried about is available).

There is definitely someone who should be ashamed here, but it isn’t philanthropists who support school choice.

HT Jason Bedrick

3 Responses to Education Paternalists: Choice Is Only for Us

  1. matthewladner says:


  2. George Mitchell says:

    “Progressive philanthropy.” Maybe she can apply to be chancellor at Mizzou.

  3. Ze'ev Wurman says:

    Years ago (circa 1995), when we in Palo Alto were fighting for offering choice of programs in the middle school to avoid the lethal 1992 Calif. math framework at least for *some* students, Joan Talbert (of Stanford Graduate School of Education) penned a letter to the school board arguing that parents are unqualified to make educational selection for their children, and hence choice should not be offered.

    The interesting twist is that Talbert did not argue this only for poor or minority parents. Her argument was against ANY parental choice. Plus ça change …

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