Friday, January 21, 2022

School Choice as Occupational Choice

Many people have noted that the public school model is obviously unattractive when applied to other goods and services. For instance, few would support a shift to residentially-assigned, government-run grocery stores. It's much better to have a choice of grocery stores and to address issues of access with income supplementation.

But here’s another way of getting at the same idea. Think of attending school as a kind of occupation. Suppose that your place of work was dictated by the government based on where your house was located. Your boss might do a bad job. You might have serious conflicts with your co-workers. Your day-to-day work might be tedious and unproductive. But if that's the place of employment assigned to you based on your location, that's where you'll work.

Now suppose there's a much better workplace down the street. You'd prefer to work there. You're permitted to switch jobs, but there's a catch--your former employer will garnish your wages forever even though you no longer work there. You can't afford this loss of income, so you decide to stay.

I assume few would support a shift to this system of employment. Yet this is all too similar to our current system of public schooling.