Educational finance monopoly is the radical alternative to parental freedom in education. These are opposite educational funding methods. They have to do entirely with this question: if there are tax dollars devoted to education to achieve a public good, how are those dollars actually assigned to schools? That is the question. One answer is educational finance monopoly or EFM. EFM assigns all K-12 education-dedicated tax dollars through monopolistic bureaucratic structures at state and local levels, and only to public schools. The immediate educational effects of this are twofold: the public schools sheltered by these monopolistic financing methods are deprived of the normal human incentives to excel; and parents who want to choose independent educational alternatives are forced to pay a large and often impossible financial penalty for such a choice. The penalty: paying ever-increasing taxes for the public schools and ever-increasing tuition for any alternative selected.
The negative implications of those two effects are inescapable: the public schools, absent a comparative and competitive environment, tend to underproduce qualitatively; personnel and program proliferation characteristically occur; vested interests grow up around the monopoly financing structures to ensure they remain intact; political alliances form for this purpose; poor educational performance in the artificially-protected public schools becomes the (ironic) justification for increased funding, and citizens tire of such budgeting; and, in the meantime, most independent schools, often performing superlatively, are under constant financial pressure and in constant peril.
An obvious alternative to EFM is to place some or all education-dedicated tax dollars in parents' hands, thus creating choice without financial penalty. Forecastable positive impacts: public schools, subject to comparison and competition under this new arrangement, will be stimulated to excel and to economize; independent options will be encouraged; citizen confidence in budgetary processes will be restored; and family integrity will be strengthened because families will actively choose their child's school, public or private, and commit themselves to the chosen schools. Such bonds flow from the "natural moral contracts" forged by free associations.
It is truly true that given its automatic monopolistic characteristics and its negative impacts, there is no objective defense for EFM, just as there is no downside for parental freedom in education. But if that is true, why is there such a tortuous path to change? How do we overcome the obstacles to achieving parental freedom? How can we help people see the many steps needed in order finally to liberate America's parents? There will be beginning efforts which fall short of complete victory. But if properly understood, each of those steps will be seen as a step toward the ultimate success of parental freedom through school choice without financial penalty.
The first part of the answer to the question of how to overcome the obstacles is to understand that there are long-standing, deeply entrenched, and very well-funded vested interests who want to maintain the status quo, and there are strong political liaisons formed by those vested interests to keep the status quo in place. The vested interests and their political liaisons, and their "altruistic corollaries" (PTA members, et al. who, imagining themselves to be performing a social good, align themselves with EFM), employ a variety of errant but effective arguments. The unsuspecting objects of such pseudo-arguments are the altruistic corollaries themselves and the general citizenry, vulnerable as they are to certain kinds of argumentative manipulation. And that is the second explanation for the long, arduous path to parental freedom. The first is the presence of vested interests able to employ social inertia; the second is the susceptibility of altruistic corollaries and the general citizenry to that manipulation because they are themselves weighed down by social inertia. And that is a basic point of this essay: for reasons to be developed shortly, social inertia for these purposes can be understood as creating a predisposition to be confused.
When Party A thinks he has a perfect argument but finds himself unable to convince other parties of his argument, that usually means the argument was not perfect at all. Party A's position and conclusion finally might be right, but incompletely argued, explained and defended. Or, his position and conclusion might be wrong, based on erroneous factual premises or flawed logical constructions. "Back to the drawing boards" is the correct prescription under either circumstance. But sometimes one's inability to convince another party has nothing to do with imperfections in the argument. It can derive instead from the inability of the other party to receive the truth, even when it is presented compellingly. If the truth has the effect of threatening someone's self-interest, for example ('Don't talk to me about the virtues of automobiles - I manufacture buggy whips'), that someone may have great difficulty seeing, let alone embracing, the truth. We know that it is a key part of educational finance monopoly's defense against parental freedom via school choice without financial penalty. Many large and well-funded groups, educational unions and bureaucratic structures for example, have a material stake in the status quo, imagine that stake to be at risk if parental freedom breaks out, and stand fast against school choice. This is not good, this is not heroic, but it is easily understood and easily argued against. The essentially perfect argument for school choice - that it is advantageous for parents, for youth, for taxpayers, for independent schools and even for public schools when they are seen as educational providers - will not necessarily overcome the self-interest of those who imagine themselves threatened by it, but it will be compelling to any objective third parties able to look beyond the status quo and see the truth.