By and large catholic schools are great. Seriously they are. They’ve been the subject of interesting books and when you see them in action it’s hard, even for a non-Catholic, not to see the great value especially considering many of the communities they serve. That’s why it’s great to hear that Stephanie Saroki and Scott Hamilton are launching a project to try to help Catholic schools, which are under pressure for a variety of reasons. But, while I’d rather see Catholic schools get a bailout than some of the other entities getting them lately and despite Checker Finn and Andy Smarick’s passionate case in the Washington Post today, I remain unpersuaded on the need for a public bailout of Catholic schools absent a lot of reciprocal accountability and transparency. There is an obvious difference between propping up demonstrably failing schools and helping good schools that are struggling and some quite reasonable policy reasons to help Catholic schools. Still, hard to miss that folks who profess a lot of faith in the invisible hand are now protesting its results when not to their liking.
4 Replies to “The Invisible Hand…”
Using public funds to prop up Catholic schools or any other type of private schools would be worse than using public funds to prop up private companies, instead of letting them fail. With regard to supporting religious schools, I fear that we’d begin a slippery slope that could end with the introduction of religious education into traditional public schools.
There in the district, students going to public schools receive over $20,000 per kid, charter schools $13k. With the small exception in recent years of the voucher program, Catholic school parents got next to nothing.
Milton Friedman made the point that is difficult for any provider to compete against a product which is provided free of charge, even if the product provided is quite shoddy.
Maybe the “greatness” stems from more traditional curriculum and instruction with less attention to educational whims ??? Where would that put most ed reformers??
As an economist, I see this as a classic free rider problem. The State has an obligation to educate children. However, Catholics, a minority group, prefer to educate children within their community. Historically, the State has free-riden on this minority, although I really can’t see how reading, writing, and arithmetic is religious. Free rider problems generally result in the eventually collapse of the victim and substantial cost to the perpetrator. In effect, the State can pay now, or pay more tomorrow. In 1960, half the Catholic community was educated privately, today maybe 15%.