March 06, 2004
Why Tim Worstall likes the latest Conservative education policy announcement

I like the idea of daily postings, and I even like them at the weekend. There is something satisfying about an uninterrupted posting record. But what to put today?

Well, this morning I encountered yet another policy initiative here, but this one is different. It is from the Conservatives, and it just might do some good, if only by making the people who ought to be suffering to suffer.

But I thought about it a bit and decided that the political implications were at least as interesting as the educational implications, so I said what I had to say about this at Samizdata rather than here.

But then I wanted to say here that I'd said all this there, as is my wont here, and that ought to involve me saying in more detail why I liked the sound of this policy. Basically what it is is education vouchers, dressed up as something else. Funding follows parental choice. Popular schools get more money and expand. Unpopular schools get less and wither away. That kind of thing. Good idea, I think. For why: see all my previous posts here since this blog began.

Luckily a commenter called Tim Worstall has commented in more detail, and says the kind of thing I had in mind better than I could. Quote:

You leave out some other implications of the policy: vouchers will quite obviously not pass through the LEA's : at one bound the system will be free of a bureaucracy that swallows 30% of all input. This has the interesting side effect of making state education equally funded with private at £5,000 or so a year per pupil (at the level of the school), without higher central government spending. And even more: removing education spending from local council budgets (where it currently rests along with the LEA's ) goes a long way to making local taxation more reasonable and responsive to local spending.

There will of course be an outcry from the LEA staff as the implications sink in, that they're all going to be out of a job soon, and yet there is even a solution to that inherent in the cunning plan. The number of LEA employees with teaching credentials is within a fag paper of those teaching posts unfilled by a shortage of trained graduates.

So, real choice in schooling, abolition of a bureaucracy, solve the teacher shortage, end the "resources" crisis in state education and go at least halfway to getting a handle on council tax.

Maybe my old flatmate will actually get re-elected, into Govt this time, and I can look forward to some falconeration? Maybe just the odd quango post to start with? Usual rules, all meetings held standing up, pay of those attending publicly calculated minute by minute, any decision costing more by that meter to take than is at stake immediately made by the Chairman and, most important, a sunset clause.

For the benefit of Zanzibarian (and such like) readers of this, "LEA" stands for "Local Education Authorities". But what does that bit about his old flatmate mean? Maybe he will explain in a further Samizdata comment.

Anyway, as the American blog-commenters say: what he said.

I did some googling, and I rather think that Tim Worstall must be this guy.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 07:29 PM
Category: Free market reformsPolitics