Last Saturday I was greatly honored to be a guest speaker at the first statewide event sponsored by No Left Turn in Education - Kentucky.
NLTE-KY is the state chapter of a national organization dedicated to fighting against leftist indoctrination in K-12 school curricula, promoting greater transparency in what is being taught in K-12 schools, and empowering educators and parents. Saturday's conference, called "Irrigating Deserts," took its name from a quote by C.S. Lewis in Abolition of Man: "The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts."
Fellow speakers included Dr. Wilfred Reilly, associate professor of political science and Kentucky State University; Dr. Bonnie Snyder from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), and Pastor Cecil Blye of More Grace Christian Academy in Louisville. You can watch the conference in its entirety here. Below is my talk, "Fund Students, Not Systems."
In the speech I try to argue why education is a highly personal public good that should be treated like other public goods where the beneficiary gets to choose their own provider. I explain why the monopoly-like character of traditional public schools aggravates its many problems. And I explain different school choice policy mechanisms (charter schools, scholarship tax credits, and vouchers) and the status of each of those policies in Kentucky.
One point I started to make but got sidetracked was distinguishing the "education establishment" from rank and file teachers. There is no doubt that the education establishment is ferociously opposed to the idea that we should fund students, not systems. The establishment - the cabal of teachers unions, administrator organizations, and school boards associations - exist for the very purpose of defending the existing system. But I meet ordinary teachers and administrators every day who (quietly) express their agreement on school choice and a variety of other education reforms.
I think I'm clear that my commitment is to students and their families, not systems, but part of the reason I fight so hard for this issue is also for my fellow educators who have so much to gain by letting every family choose the school that is the best fit for their child.