Monday, August 11, 2008

"How on earth would parents know which schools are best?"

This is a brilliant piece of satire, from the British sitcom Yes, Prime Minister. The Prime Minister has a brilliant idea for educational reform: Let parents choose where their children go to school. His cabinet secretary, Sir Humphrey, tries to defend the status quo.

Sir Humphrey's arguments will sound familiar, although he's more openly contemptuous of parents than school-choice opponents usually dare:

"You can't expect ordinary people to know where to send their children!"

"Parents have no qualifications to make these choices. Teachers are the professionals. Parents are the worst people to bring up children!"

Sir Humphrey doesn't think much of medical choice, either. At least he's consistent:

"I think letting people choose doctors is a very bad idea. Very messy. Much tidier to allocate people to [general practitioners]. Much fairer. Then we can even out the numbers, and every one has an equal chance of getting the bad doctors."

When the PM suggests abolishing the Department of Education if it gets in the way of his school choice reform, Sir Humphrey is appalled -- how can anything flourish without a government department to tend it. Another adviser fires back:

"Government departments are tombstones. The Department of Industry marks the grave of industry. The Department of the Environment marks the grave of the environment. And the Department of Education marks where the corpse of British education is buried."

Sir Humphrey's final defense of the Department of Education's raison d'ĂȘtre:

"Who would plan for the future?"

"Are you saying that education in Britain today is what the department planned?"

"Well, of course not!!"

(Via Club for Growth.)

No comments: