Thoughts, Ideas, Observations


John Bedell

I was pleased to learn, from a recent discussion on the Intellect list, that there's somebody else in the US who is ambivalent about school vouchers; from what I read in the newspapers I had gotten the impression that I'm the only one who isn't hot on one side or the other.

I dislike vouchers on principle, because it seems to me that the public schools provide most of what little unity we have in this country; dismantle the public schools and we have nothing left in common but television.  I also like the institution of the local school, where all the kids from the neighborhood can meet each other.  I work 45 miles from my house, and the only way I have met people who live close to me is because they are the parents of my kids' friends.  I also think the teachers' unions are right that a big explosion in cheap private schools would further undermine their earning power, and I think they are pretty badly paid as it is.

But if I were stuck in a neighborhood with terrible schools, I'm sure I would bitterly resent the politicians (like the Clintons) who say they are for public education while sending their kids to places like Sidwell Friends that cost $20,000 a year.  And maybe national unity isn't a goal we should be forcing on people; in most ways I think that if people want to opt out of the mainstream they ought to be able to.  Also, if I think about the problems of an aging city like Baltimore or Washington and ask myself, "what can they do to get middle-class families to move back?" about the only thing I can think of is to shift to a voucher system for their schools.

So I don't know.

January 15, 2001

From the 
Commonplace Book

"Conservative, n.  A statesman who is  enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from a Liberal, who wants to replace them with others."

--Ambrose Bierce, The
Devil's Dictionary


Commonplace Book
On the Dead
Bulletin Board
About us


Faith, Error, and the Death Penalty




At Each Other's Throats

Not just the Execution



The Principle of Violence

Iraqi Democracy

Clash of Civilizations

A Sniper Nation

War and Alienation

Revisiting the War

September 11

Taking Anarchism Seriously

The PLO and the NRA

Shay's Rebellion and
Bankruptcy "Reform"

What is Justice For?
Education Reform