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Opinion

Reed oversimplifies solutions to issues


  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Dec. 16, 2022 - 4:08 PM

Reed oversimplifies solutions to issues

The Newnan Times-Herald

I frequently read Lawrence Reed’s editorials, enjoying his historical perspective on relevant issues of the day. However, Mr. Reed too often oversimplifies the topic — as he did in his commentary on public schools.

Mr. Reed lays at the feet of “distant bureaucracies and self-serving unions” the challenges our public education system faces, and the sole remedy is “choice and competition.” Mr. Reed chooses the example of restaurants as the cornerstone of his argument that competition would improve education.

Yet, Mr. Reed unfortunately falls into the trap of many of our political and media contemporaries: oversimplification of the issues and demonizing public servants.

What Mr. Reed fails to explain to his readers is the economic concept of “public good.” When free markets fail to provide certain goods or services the public deems necessary at equitable levels, then we (the public) insist that our representative government provide them — such as roads, public safety, national defense and yes — education.

With respect to education, our society has decided an informed and trained citizenry elevates us as a whole as well as individuals. For several centuries our country has continued to strive in the goal of affording all the opportunity for an education — with the benefits of economic growth, a resourceful labor pool, reduced crime and individual opportunity to advance.

But after these many years, we would all agree our education system is strained and challenged to provide the level of service we expect and need. Mr. Reed asserts that if we simply introduced competition into the public education arena it would make it better. Perhaps.

But I ask Mr. Reed why now, after so many years of unprecedented economic growth and advancement due in part to investment and support of public education, is it necessary to disband the model which has served our society well for so long? Does Mr. Reed really believe privatizing education would solve all our current woes?

In his example of “private restaurants,” Mr. Reed is correct that bad establishments would be history. But what Mr. Reed doesn’t consider is that free markets for eating out are not at all equitable. Not all neighborhoods have good restaurants available — like the food deserts in which grocery stores do not locate in poorer parts of town.

And those of us fortunate to afford dining at better establishments have the opportunity to partake of fresher, healthier fare — while those without the same means can only expect unhealthy fast food. Does Mr. Reed not realize privatizing education would result in the same disparity? Of course, private schools excel — they are afforded the luxury of selecting which students they educate, and those without means or have special needs are excluded.

And more importantly, what Mr. Reed fails to mention is it is not public schools which have failed society, but society has failed our public schools. He is correct: “It is most commonly reflected in students’ total disregard for their teacher’s very presence in the classroom.” Amen! Yet, Mr. Reed doesn’t consider that we as parents have failed to hold our children accountable and raise them to be respectful and thoughtful. Instead, we have allowed our children to become socially inept through free rein of television, video games and social media. And too, we have abdicated responsibility of raising our children to public schools instead of our being good examples and instilling discipline.

Of course, Mr. Reed takes the easy road of blaming others — i.e., school administrators, teacher unions and government — instead of expecting us as individuals to live up to our own responsibilities.

Paul Young

Newnan