Education: Private versus Public

In an interesting experiment, Andrew Leigh and Andrew Norton are engaged in what they are terming a “bloggish debate” about the subject of private versus public education.

Andrew Norton is a researcher with the Centre for Independent Studies, and works in the office of the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne. He has formerly worked as an adviser to a Liberal Minister. Andrew Leigh is an economist at the Australian National University, and has formerly worked as an adviser to a Labor Shadow Minister.

Andrew Norton kicks the debate off with a post in favour of privatisation that can be read here.

Across the political spectrum, activists want to use public education to influence young minds. In his book Dumbing Down, Kevin Donnelly documents how left-wing academics and teachers shape curricula to fit their political agenda. In government, the Liberal Party proposed a national history curriculum, which was widely seen as another front in the so-called ‘culture wars’.

Rather than fostering social unity, as some of its supporters claim, state-controlled education is a source of division and nastiness. Instead of allowing different groups to devise their own curriculum, and letting parents choose between them, we fight over a common curriculum. The public education lobby stirs class and sectarian resentment in its attempts to take funding from private schools.