Many people in the libertarian sphere have been jumping for joy over the news of Louisiana moving to privatize public education:
Louisiana is embarking on the nation’s boldest experiment in privatizing public education, with the state preparing to shift tens of millions in tax dollars out of the public schools to pay private industry, businesses owners and church pastors to educate children.
Starting this fall, thousands of poor and middle-class kids will get vouchers covering the full cost of tuition at more than 120 private schools across Louisiana, including small, Bible-based church schools.
Obviously the progressives are already screaming bloody murder. Many people seem to assume I’m joining other libertarians in celebrating this apparent victory, I’m not. How could an advocate of the free market oppose this? Easy, this isn’t going to be a free market in education, it’s going to be tightly controlled at best and cronyism at worst.
The state didn’t say, “Hey guys, were removing all regulations dealing with education and turning it over to you!” What they said was, “We’re going to give you vouchers so you can attend any number of state sanctioned private education facilities.” There’s a huge difference.
A free market in education would mean no regulations, no state approvals, and no money being handed out by the state to those in its favor. Unfortunately the state has an approved list of some sort as the story states the vouchers will be usable” at more than 120 private schools.” That indicates there is some kind of state approval process, which means there is no free market.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the state approved schools are run by politically well-connected cronies. The state wouldn’t make this move unless it benefited its benefactors. Don’t be too quick to cheer this news as a libertarian victory, it’s merely a statist package wrapped in a very thin layer of mock liberty.