Caplan on Education
By David Henderson
As I noted earlier, I’ve prepared for a colloquium at Milton and Rose Friedman’s summer home, Capitaf, that happens next month.
I went through various chapters of both Capitalism and Freedom and Free to Choose thoroughly to see whether they held up. The majority do.
But on one issue that the Friedmans address in both books, I can no longer think the way I did even as little as a year ago: the issue of education and schooling. Reading the first third of Bryan Caplan’s The Case Against Education and listening to the various interviews–my favorite is the one by Robert Wiblin–has changed my thinking fundamentally.
I remember Bob Lucas at the University of Chicago writing:
Is there some action a government of India could take that would lead the Indian economy to grow like Indonesia’s or Egypt’s? If so, what, exactly? If not, what is it about the “nature of India” that makes it so? The consequences for human welfare involved in questions like these are simply staggering: Once one starts to think about them, it is hard to think about anything else.
I am an educator. I have been for over 40 years. But now that I’ve absorbed a large part of Bryan Caplan’s message about education, whenever I think about education, it’s hard to think about anything other than his critique–and the policy measures that should follow from his critique.
Because I’ve been thinking more about education and schooling, I have some suggestions for incremental reforms that could move the system in the direction that Bryan and I would like. I proposed them to Milton Friedman back in 2000 as an alternative to his pursuit of vouchers. In the next few days, I’ll share them, along with excerpts of my correspondence with Milton.