Friday, January 7, 2011

How the Internet is changing education

"When you can buy from anywhere," economist Gary North writes, "local monopolies die."
That happened to medieval urban guilds. It is happening to education. The local tax-funded school cannot deliver the goods. Today, it offers babysitting. It offers sports. It offers a central market where drugs are available. It offers opportunities for teenagers to hook up, which does not mean what it did in my day. It offers economies of scale in those features of education that are either peripheral or objectionable.

Family by family, parents are making the decision to pull their children out. They want a better education for their children.

Family by family, the realization is becoming clear: a mother can stay home with her children and monitor their performance. She can give them a better education than the local tax-funded school can.

The existing educational system is desperately trying to keep the public schools from losing its best students, but it cannot win this war. Digital technology is against it. Price competition is against it. The tax revolt is against it. The looming bankruptcy of municipalities is against it.

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