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Argument: The free markets are not reliable, particularly in the education industry

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Supporting quotes from the Economist Online Debate Series

  • Realitychick, commenter. Economist Online Debate Series. December 12, 2007 15:42 - "How predictable, the outcome of this debate so far. Sadly, for us all, there are 2 entirely flawed premises shared by shared the PRO voters. The notion that the global market is a free market is a flawed premise, as is the idea that what is good for the economy and the GDP improves our quality of life. These same, so called, Darwinian economists have facilitated the importation of poisonous toys for our children as well as the flooding of our labor market with uneducated third world workers that U.S. workers must compete with, and that our government subsidized services such as education, housing, and health care must support."
  • RMeyers, commenter. Economist Online Debate Series. December 12, 2007 15:59 - "There is no question that international competition for education can raise the level of play for teachers, students and institutions, as well as contribute beneficially to the economies of nations receiving international students and to their culural diversity. I have several concerns, however, at least with regard to the undergraduate level of education, where a robust (even mandatory)programs for one-term or one-year exchanges would provide the desired benefits.
(1) Global-level competition might be good for companies and markets, but education is not the same thing. Students need to be nurtured -- a process that requires cultural connection to their teachers, colleagues, and institutions, as well as the freedom from extreme pressure to produce. Already, intense competiton for the Ivy League gives rise to highly arbitrary admissions decisions and to manic competition to students in what ought to be the more tender and care-free years of life. Intensifying the pressure, at least at the undergraduate level, can do no good, and much ill.
(2) There might be some benefit to forcing universities to improve their 'product' in the face of competition. But education is not properly conceived as a product. The best education and the environment in which the freest and most creative thought occurs is one in that supports rich relationships and creative risk-taking without regard to the ultimate product. Results-oriented thinking is largely inconsistent with the open-ended life of the mind that makes our best universities engines of fresh thought.
(3) A college or university serves an important function in the life of its own nation and community. Oxford is deeply connected to Britain and Harvard is deeply reflects the US and New England. These cultural ties are much enriched by international students, but should not be sacrificed to an all-out open-door policy to international admissions.
(4) With all-out global competition, it is likely that the entire world will become a single scale of achievement, with the best schools concentrated in certain countries and the lesser schools concentrated elsewehre. Students would be sorted on this scale out not by college, as they are today, but by country. Students should not be forced to expatriate if they are unable to get in to a college in their home nation.
  • teachertech, commenter. Economist Online Debate Series. December 12, 2007 20:58 - "The idea that universities will be competitive is a bit laughable. The inflation rates for tuition has at time been double-digit. Why? Because all the other universities are doing it. This isn't a hamburger, widget or commodity. You can't get a refund for a class where you didn't learn anything and it is difficult to transfer credits irregardless of what universities claim."

Supporters of this perspective

  • Noam Chomsky is one of the most famous proponents of this argument.


See also

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