I did a Toastmasters speech years ago based on this book and present here an outline of that speech. It encapsulates the essentials of the book along with supplemental material. I highly recommend that any lover of liberty read this book.
... (See the whole review)
In browsing the Amazon reviews of this book this one caught my eye:
Sheldon Richman has some valid arguments, but ignores why the earlier forms of public education were started in Prussia--because the rural population was so illiterate that royal laws could not be read, and laws were not being followed. After Prussian villiages instituted Pietist pedagogy into a public education system, they soon had little need of jails, and morality soared. Richman's viewpoint launches an extreme Libertarian arrow that overshoots the target as much as today's beaurocratic public education misses the target. Public charter school laws free the hands of parents who start them from government regulation. Michigan is having great success in this area. Private schools and home schools work also. Education for the masses was established to promote the internal desire to serve the common good through moral behavior. In the twentieth century, public education reversed its purpose to become preoccupied with the individualism of "self-esteem" and "moral relativism." The result has been a return to the ills suffered in the middle ages. These include dramatic increases in ignorance, laziness, crime, and overall immorality. These would also be the results of following Sheldon Richman's extremist position.
I would like to see how others would counter the claim that such schools originated "because the rural population was so illiterate that royal laws could not be read, and laws were not being followed" and that "dramatic increases in ignorance, laziness, crime, and overall immorality ... would also be the results of following Sheldon Richman's extremist position."
Was there capitalism in the Prussian villages? Could educational entrepreneurs start schools as businesses designed to make a profit? Probably not. Had capitalism prevailed in these villages, the private sector could have provided for the educational needs of the populace.
Today, the answer is clearly private schools, which compete for the satisfaction of the parents who are paying for their children's education. The parents, for the most part, would want their children to be well educated and imbued with proper values. If a school did not adequately meet this need, the parents would be free to withdraw their children from the school and send them to an alternative school that did. This freedom would lead to superior education, as the best schools would get the lion's share of the parents' business.
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