Robin’s been warming up to Bowles and Gintis’ classic Schooling in Capitalist America.  The usual summary of B&G is that our educational system is basically a factory that makes good cogs for the capitalists’ social machine. 

As a product of Los Angeles public schools, this story strikes me as wildly implausible.  The most obvious problem: If capitalists ran the school system, they’d impose much stricter discipline – and eagerly expel persistent trouble-makers.  The system we have looks more like it was designed by egalitarian bureaucrats trying to minimize the number of phone calls and visits they get from angry parents of kids with bad behavior.

Furthermore, if capitalists ran the school system, they wouldn’t teach poetry, art, history, music, etc.  Performance in these subjects does signal desirable traits, but if the capitalists were in charge, they might as well impose a curriculum that lets students signal and build job skills at the same time.

Question: Suppose you were on the executive committee of the bourgeoisie.  If you had a fixed budget to spend on schools (you and the other committee members can’t just pocket the school taxes), what would your schools look like?