A great short report for which I’ve done some research, but which I never manage to get to, would look at the effects of Vermont’s legacy school choice program. Given the long-rural history of the state, some districts offer students actual school choice, including to private schools, and a key finding that Rhode Island homeowners should find interesting is that property values go up significantly in areas with choice. Geoffrey Norman doesn’t offer more than a nod to that dynamic in a recent article in The Weekly Standard, but he does use the current debate in Vermont to make a key, fundamental point (emphasis added):
So, school choice is not—and could never be—supported by the education bureaucracy. It threatens not just their convictions but their livelihoods. Where parents can take their kids and the public money that is being spent on them out of one school and move them, and it, to another—well, this threatens the entire system.
Why it might even, in the dark vision of one of the prominent Vermont opponents of school choice, “turn children into commodities.”
Which of course stands the whole thing on its head. Commodities don’t make choices. They are manipulated, packaged, and bundled. As are students in the grip of the industrial-education complex.
What Norman is touching on, here, is the government plantation. Attracting people to an area who are likely to need government assistance, binding them to their region with government dependency, and locking their children in government schools creates a captive audience with little power to affect the services their receiving. Again, “commodities don’t make choices,” but when human beings are “manipulated, packaged, and bundled,” they lose the authority to do anything but sit on the shelf until they’re of use to some powerful consumer.