The “resource curse” and our education system

John Derbyshire in Race to Nowhere makes a fresh application of the “resource curse,” applying it to the problems in our public education system:

Does not everyone by now understand that public money beyond the meager necessities is pure poison to our educational system, a domestic-policy equivalent to the resource curse? Didn’t anybody learn anything from the Kansas City fiasco? (How are they doing over there in Kansas City nowadays, by the way? Let’s take a look . . . Oh.)

…Leviathan must be fed, though, and there are still a few private-sector taxpayers whose veins have not yet been emptied of all their blood. And this is education we’re talking about! It’s for the kiddies! What could be more important? Why do you hate children, Mr. Derbyshire?

Here is my prescription for a reform of the nation’s education system. First, destroy all the schools. Cart away the rubble for landfill and sow the ground with salt. Abolish the federal Department of Education and all state equivalents. End all education funding from public sources.

If the inhabitants of any district then wish their kids to be educated in schools, let them raise the necessary funds themselves. Then let them build the schools themselves, like zeks. There should be just one federally approved model: an unheated wood-and-tar-paper structure with plastic sheeting for windows.

Any person above the age of twelve who wishes to attend school should have to stand outside the school gate for a month, in all weathers, pleading to be admitted. There should be a constitutional amendment banning any community from employing non-teaching staff in its schools at any ratio to teaching staff higher than one percent. And let’s have a federal penalty of 25-to-life for anyone attempting to form a teachers’ union.

Crazy, you say? No: Spending half a billion dollars you don’t have on a school to educate 4,200 students, some high proportion of whom are in the country illegally, is crazy. Shoveling seven hundred million dollars into the public sector of a state whose private sector is withering on the vine is crazy. Pretending that by spending enough money you can turn every child into a bookish child is crazy.

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