Education = Money? Good Intentions are Not Enough

Nancy Kassebaum Baker calls for higher tax rates for schooling.

Why are the opinions of a former U.S. senator noteworthy? Because the report from the Lawrence Journal-World continues several error-ridden themes:

1. The public goal of education is synonymous with the current approach of tieing tax money to school districts rather than students.

2. Education is so valuable that it’s not subject to standard reasoning of economics. Education is indeed important, but so are roads, public health, and so forth. The word “education” should not cause us to forget the basic truths that resources are finite, not infinite.

3. It ignores the possibility that an increase in spending on education could be funded by cutting back on other areas, rather than simply raising taxes.

Here’s how this puff-piece starts:

Even with a long record of opposing taxation and overspending during her years as a U.S. senator from Kansas, Nancy Kassebaum Baker knows education trumps everything -— including fiscal conservatism.

““None of us like to raise taxes,”” she said. ““But we have to be sure we have the incentives to bring the very best.”

Yes. Excellence is good. But in the rest of the world, we rely on competition, and the threat of losing customers, to prompt organizations to perform excellently. In education, we act as if the normal rules don’t apply. No, education doesn’t trump “everything.” You couldn’t abolish the Bill of Rights, for example, on the grounds that it would somehow improve education. Likewise, we must use economic sense when considering how to fund education.

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