At this month’s Cato Unbound, we’re talking about school choice, markets, and democracy – with none other than the League’s own Conor Williams.
I don’t have a lot to say. I do find it fascinating, though, that each of the four participants endorses “school choice,” and each sees a role for educational entrepreneurs. But then each supplies a slightly (or radically) different meaning for the words.
Karl Popper made it a practice never to argue about words or their definitions: That kind of thing is the groundwork, which we should take care to tidy up before the conversation even begins. After that comes the heavy lifting.
Let’s say, then, that all involved support school choice, after a fashion. The range of choices is, roughly, as follows. Lead essayist Kevin Currie-Knight supports public funding but private provision: Vouchers would be greatly expanded, and presumably many new types of schools would arise. Response essayist Deborah Meier supports small, local, democratically self-governed schools of choice, both publicly administered and publicly funded, in part to serve the communitarian end of teaching democratic values. Conor’s approach is — well, I’ll let him speak for himself, and do the same with Marcus Winters of the Manhattan Institute. Whose approach is best, and why?