December 18, 2003
E. G. West: "… universal state provision of education is the model that is least likely to benefit the poor"

Talking of James Tooley (see below), I've only just encountered news of this:

Government Failure: E. G. West on Education
Edited by James Tooley and James Stanfield
Institute of Economic Affairs, December 2003-12-18

This selection of E.G. West's papers contains a wealth of economic and philosophical analysis which can guide policymakers in the field of Education. They also show how state monopoly provision of education has led to a particular model of schooling which does not work for many of those who use the education system – parents and children.

Perhaps the most valuable contribution of these papers, though, is their historical analysis. The extent to which education systems developed in the UK and the USA before either compulsory schooling or dominant state finance emerged is remarkable. E.G. West also analyses the debate between those who believe that the state should control education in order to shape the thinking of the younger generation, and those who believe in a pluralist system. He demonstrates how universal state provision of education is the model that is least likely to benefit the poor, although they could benefit substantially from programmes to help them fund their education.

In an era when there is increasing dissatisfaction with state education provision, but in which the state has ever greater control of the curriculum – including the teaching of 'citizenship' – and management of schools, the papers in Occasional Paper 130 have never been more relevant.

Perhaps Mr Clarke would like to put that bit about state provision being the worst for the poor in a frame and hang it on his wall. And then again, perhaps he wouldn't.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 08:37 PM
Category: History