Education between States, Markets, and Civil Society: Comparative Perspectives

By Heinz-Dieter Meyer; William L. Boyd | Go to book overview
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message is not making it in the current great debate about schooling [and vouchers]” (p. 193).

Thus, in a truly equitable society, the role of government would be to create, sustain, and expand equal educational opportunities for all, and not to fight against the expansion of such choices. The middle and upper classes will always buy their way out of trouble and into a school of their choosing. It is the poor who need assistance from the government to ensure social justice, not by restricting the market and educational choice, but by making the marketplace truly equitable.

The Political Economy of Education Is Restructured. Ultimately, can public education be that much different from the private economic sector? The true role of government might better be to break up monopolies in education, not create and protect them, just as such authorities have done in virtually every other field of social and economic endeavor. Vouchers would be one way to privatize and de-institutionalize education, following somewhere behind the radical changes in the commercial and industrial sectors. Would the school market respond, producing new options? In turn, would the proper role of government be to protect and expand the market, giving start-up grants to new market entries, so that every child would have a wide choice of schools and school types to attend? Holland does this. Any 36 families can open a school and the government subsidizes the start-up costs and the tuition.

Finally, one wonders whether a state-run education system (even though it is ostensibly local and democratic) can survive in a nation or a world that is becoming more capitalist, global, competitive, entrepreneurial, and decentralized. We think not. Education vouchers, then, are inevitable as the coincidences change. It is now just a question of when, where, in what form, and under what circumstances.


Agostini v. Felton, 118 S. Ct. 40 (1997).

Aguilar v. Felton, 473 U.S. 373 (1985).


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Education between States, Markets, and Civil Society: Comparative Perspectives
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