Educational policy analysis archives

Educational policy analysis archives

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Educational policy analysis archives
Arizona State University
University of South Florida
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Tempe, Ariz
Tampa, Fla
Arizona State University
University of South Florida.
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Education -- Research -- Periodicals ( lcsh )
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Includes EPAA commentary.

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Educational policy analysis archives.
n Vol. 4, no. 9 (June 12, 1996).
Tempe, Ariz. :
b Arizona State University ;
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida.
c June 12, 1996
Includes EPAA commentary.
Markets versus monopolies in education : the historical evidence / Andrew Coulson.
x Research
v Periodicals.
2 710
Arizona State University.
University of South Florida.
1 773
t Education Policy Analysis Archives (EPAA)
4 856

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1 of 28 Education Policy Analysis Archives Volume 4 Number 9June 12, 1996ISSN 1068-2341A peer-reviewed scholarly electronic journal. Editor: Gene V Glass,Glass@ASU.EDU. College of Educ ation, Arizona State University,Tempe AZ 85287-2411 Copyright 1996, the EDUCATION POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES and Andrew J. Coulson.Permission is hereby granted to copy any article provided that EDU POLICY ANALYSIS ARCHIVES is credited and copies are not sold.Markets Versus Monopolies in Education: The Historical Evidence Andrew Coulson Abstract: A common point of contention among educators and e conomists is the likely effect a free market would have on modern education. Most su pporters of public schooling maintain that the field would either be adversely affected by com petition and choice, or that the effects would be insubstantial. Conversely, a significant number of critics argue that education, like all other human exchanges, would respond to market incentives with improved performance, increased attention to the needs of families, and greater inn ovation. Historical evidence is presented indicating that teachers and schools are indeed aff ected by the financial incentives of the systems in which they operate. In particular, the data show that economic pressures have forced schools in competitive markets to meet the needs of families, through methodological advancements and diversity in curriculum, while centralized bureaucr atic systems have generally been coercive and pedagogically stagnant.Introduction The debate over educational funding and administra tion is an old one. Writing to his friend Tacitus almost two thousand years ago, the R oman lawyer Pliny the Younger described his plan to establish a secondary school in his home to wn, but added that he had decided to pay only one third of the total cost. I would promise the whole amount were I not afraid that someday my gift might be abused for someone's selfish purposes, as I see hap pen in many places where teachers' salaries are paid from public funds. Ther e is only one remedy to meet this


2 of 28evil: if the appointment of teachers is left entire ly to the parents, and they are conscientious about making a wise choice through th eir obligation to contribute to the cost. (Pliny, 1969, p. 277-283) Over the last decade, proposals for introducing a degree of parental choice and inter-school competition into education have abound ed, particularly in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. In some cases, such plans are already in place. With few exceptions, though, current choice program s pose barriers to the entry of new schools and to the exit of unpopular ones, exclude religiou s and/or profit-making institutions, restrict admissions and staffing policies, and otherwise con trol the supply and demand for education. Though private schooling exists in most industriali zed countries, there is only limited competition at the primary and secondary levels. Th e comparatively heavy burden of tuition, when compared to the "free" status of tax-supported schools, greatly limits the clientele for private education. This in turn keeps the density o f private institutions to a much lower level than if government did not provide schools. As a result, there is no nation currently offering a truly free and competitive market in education.The Case Against As market-inspired reform has gained in popularity it has been subjected to a great deal of criticism. Attacks have been directed at the possib le ill-effects of parentalchoice, of for-profit schools, and of market systems as a whole. The most often heard argument against a market is that parents cannot be expected to make sound educa tional choices for their children, and must instead leave the key decisions to experts. A signi ficant number of parents, it is assumed, would either fail to inform themselves about competing sc hools, or would base their choices on the "wrong" criteria. This contention has been directed at the population as a whole (Carnegie Foundation, 1992; Wells & Crain, 1992), and also at specific groups such as the poor or the poorly-educated (Payne, 1993; Levin, 1991; Kozol, 1 992). A related criticism is that racial and economic isolation might be increased if families s elected their schools based on race, ethnicity, or social status (Cookson, 1994; Kozol, 1992). On the supply side, skeptics argue that for-profit schools with bold promises, flashy advertising, and special programs would lure custom ers away from academically superior institutions (Krashinsky, 1986). Murnane (1983), an d others have noted the possibility of fraud in voucher systems, in which corrupt principals could offer kick-backs to parents who chose their institutions. Profit-making schools are also expect ed by some critics to reject difficult-to-educate children, e.g. those with disabilities or serious d iscipline problems. According to Shanker and Rosenberg (1992), these children would be more expe nsive to teach and hence would either be expelled more readily or refused admission entirely All these objections have in common the idea that education is fundamentally different from other human exchanges, and that as a result, t he natural checks and balances of the market would fail to operate as they normally do. There is a second line of argument that takes the opposite position, namely, that an educational mark et would fail precisely because it would operate in the same way as other markets (Krashinsk y, 1986). Education, so the argument goes, benefits not only the students and their families, but their fellow citizens as well. These indirect benefits are said to include social harmony, politi cal stability, and a thriving economy. According to Levin (1991), public school systems are capable of producing the aforementioned benefits, while a competitive market of private schools could either not produce them at all, or do so only at prohibitive regulatory expense. The remaining criticisms are based on the results of "limited choice" or "public school choice" programs, which place many restrictions on schools and families, and generally do not


3 of 28allow the participation of private or parochial sch ools. Smith and Meier (1995), for example, argue that since programs allowing parents to choos e from among different public schools have failed to substantially increase student learning, the same should be expected of an unregulated market. The experience with heavily regulated paren tal choice in the Netherlands (Brown, 1992; Elmore, 1990) is also cited in arguments against th e effectiveness of competition. In the United States, comparisons between existing public and pri vate schools have led Cookson (1994) to conclude that a market would not improve education. The same author also reasons that since private schools have rarely been included in choice programs, there is insufficient evidence to support free market educational reform.The Case in Favor Virtually all of the criticisms discussed above ha ve been disputed by proponents of parental choice. Members of the minority groups ass umed to be incompetent or uninterested in their children's education are foremost in defendin g their ability and prerogative to choose. State representative Polly Williams (1994), herself an Af rican-American single parent, championed a private school choice plan in Milwaukee Wisconsin o n the grounds that public schooling had failed the urban community and that competitive pri vate provision offered a superior education. Similar arguments have been made by NativeAmerica n educator Ben Chavis (1994). Empirical studies have shown that poor parents with limited f ormal education, from Massachusetts (Fossey, 1994) to the mountain villages of Nepal (Pande, 197 7), can and do choose schools on rational grounds (see also U.S. Dept. of Education, 1995; Ma rtinez et al, 1994). Arguments that racial segregation would increase u nder a free market have been challenged from two different perspectives. The lat e James Coleman (1990) observed that racial segregation within the American public school syste m was greater than that among private schools. So, while the percentage of African-Americ an students in the public sector is greater than the percentage in the private sector, public s chools are more likely to be all-white or all-black than their private counterparts. Opposing the very essence of the segregation claim are educators such as Derrick Bell (1987), who believe that the freedom to create separate schools for African Americans would be a boon rather than a hardship. The assertion that private schools might defraud p arents is commonly countered with the argument that such problems exist everywhere, inclu ding public schools. The cases of East St. Louis (Schmidt, 1995) and Washington D.C. are notor ious examples. Rinehart and Lee (1991) note that a competitive market would at least exert pressure on a school to deal honestly and fairly with parents in order to maintain a healthy reputation, while the public monopoly offers educators no such incentive. Along the same lines, John Coons (1991) has observed that public schooling has not engendered the external benefits of social harmony and effective democracy assumed by its defenders. The American experience o f Protestant bias in the education of immigrants at the turn of the century, as well as g overnment-enforced racial segregation, are presented as evidence of this claim. Coons also con tends that by removing the coercive element from school selection and allowing parents to choos e for themselves, the goal of effective democracy would be strengthened. To resolve the issue of difficult-to-educate childr en, Myron Lieberman (1991), investigated the current practices among private institutions. H e found that rather than focusing on easy-to-educate students, the single largest group of for-profit schools actually serves the disabled. Studies have also suggested that urban pr ivate schools are able to maintain a higher level of discipline than their public counterparts with few if any admissions requirements, and only infrequent student expulsions (Blum, 1985). For the supporter of free markets, objections base d on public school choice programs are seen as misguided. To function effectively markets require significant competition, the lure of


4 of 28profit-making, and a minimum of restrictions on buy ers and sellers. Few if any of these criteria hold among existing choice programs (OECD, 1994), a nd as a result it is argued that they cannot be expected to show any significant benefits (Liebe rman, 1989). The above rebuttals aside, the economic case for a n educational market rests on two main presumptions: that monopoly control of education le ads to coercion, indifference to the needs of families, and stagnation in the form and content of instruction, while competition and the profit motive would lead to greater quality and efficiency The first case has been made at both national and school levels. While inflation-adjusted per-pup il spending in U.S. public schools tripled between 1959/60 and the present (U. S. Department o f Education, 1993), test scores either held constant or declined (Sowell, 1993; Boaz, 1991). Co mparisons between public school administrations and those of the private Catholic s ector have shown the public bureaucracy to employ as many as thirty times the number of admini strators per-pupil (Boaz, 1991). On a school by school basis, Eric Hanushek (1986; 1989) studied correlations between spending and student achievement only to find that the relationship was not statistically significant. Similar results have been reported by Childs & Shakeshaft (1986). B ecause of the absence of any truly competitive market in education, little direct cont emporary evidence is available to demonstrate its effects on efficiency or achievement. In those cases where a limited degree of competition does exist, however, Hoffer et al. (1990), Borland and Howsen (1993), and others have found small but significant positive effects. Outside the field of education, the superiority of markets to monopolies is widely accepted, and Winston (1993) h as demonstrated that reductions in regulation are generally associated with lower pric es and better services for consumers, and even yield higher revenues for producers.The Present Work As can be gleaned from the arguments cited above, the debate over a market in education has drawn almost entirely from the limited body of contemporary evidence. With the exception of E.G. West's (1994) analysis of 19th century Engl and, the historical evidence regarding market vs. monopoly provision in education has been largel y ignored. Education, however, is not a recent invention. Two and a half thousand years of schooling, from the informal to the regimented, from complete parental freedom to total itarian domination, have preceded current practice. The study of educational history thus off ers a wealth of insights into the effects of monetary incentives and centralized administration on the actions of parents and educators. The next section looks at the educational experien ces of four historical periods and places: classical Greece, Germany at the Reformation, Engla nd during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and France after the Revolution. This se lection is a more or less representative sample from a larger survey of the subject currently in pr ogress. The most valuable lessons these histories have to teach us concern the relationship between school governance and school quality. In particular, they highlight the differences betwe en markets and centralized bureaucratic school systems on three important measures of school perfo rmance: how well they respond to and satisfy the demands of parents and students (e.g. t hrough innovation and diversity in curriculum), the degree to which they benefit their students dir ectly (e.g. higher literacy, job/life skills), and their indirect benefits to the rest of society (e.g thriving economy, social harmony). Educational Choice: Over Time and Around the WorldGreece Formal education made perhaps its earliest appearan ce in China, well before the first millennium B.C., but the most suitable starting poi nt to our study lies half a world away, in


5 of 28Greece. Unlike the uniform system of the Chinese, a ncient Greek education developed along disparate and conflicting lines. This contrast, bet ween parental freedom and state control, was best represented by the city-states of Athens and S parta. By the fifth century B.C., schooling in both of these societies had become a general prepar ation for citizenship and adulthood, but the content and delivery of that preparation differed d ramatically. It is with this organizational juxtaposition that we begin. With the exception of requiring two years of manda tory military training, the government played little or no role in Athenian schooling. Soc rates is said to have described the practice of the day as follows: When boys seem old enough to learn anything, their parents teach them whatever they themselves know that is likely to be useful to them; subjects which they think others better qualified to teach, they send them to school to learn, spending money upon this object. (Freeman, 1904) Anyone who wished might open a school, setting wha tever curriculum and tuition they deemed appropriate. The schools were operated as pr ivate enterprises, and so the subjects taught and fees charged were established by what parents w anted their children to learn, and how much they were willing to pay for that learning. Choosin g a teacher was considered an important decision, and it was expected that a person would c onsult with friends and relatives, deliberating for several days on the matter (Plato, 1937). Compe tition to attract parents and students seems to have held costs to a relatively low level, since ev en the poorest families are thought to have sent their sons to school for a few years, despite the a bsence of state funding (Cole, 1960). It should be noted, however, that most girls and much of the slave population received little or no education in Athens, as in so many cultures up to m odern times. Schooling began at the age of six or seven, but we althy parents likely sent their children to school earlier and kept them there for longer than did parents with limited means. This occurred not only because of the need to pay school fees, bu t also because poor and middle class families could not afford to support their children indefini tely, and so had to ensure that they learned a trade or craft through apprenticeship; an experienc e quite distinct from schooling. Even in this time-honored tradition, however, the Athenians were innovators. When a boy was apprenticed to a tradesman other than his father, his parents woul d draw up a statement indicating which skills they expected him to be taught and the tradesman re ceived payment only if he provided the stipulated training (Freeman, 1904). At the elementary level, Athenian parents sought t hree general categories of education for their children: gymnastics, music, and literacy. Co mpetence in each of these areas was of great practical importance. Stamina, strength, and agilit y meant the difference between life and death at a time when wars were a constant threat, and eve ry able bodied male citizen was expected to serve in the army. To understand the importance of musical instruction it must be remembered that Greek culture had been orally transmitted, lar gely in song, for centuries prior to the rise of Athens. Just as a grasp of reading and important wo rks of literature are crucial to modern education, so was the knowledge and appreciation of epic poetry important in the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. Even as the social mores embodied in the oral tradition were codified and written down, the value Athenian citizens placed on music a nd poetry remained high. Writing began to rise in significance in the 5th century, as a tool for improving the political and judicial systems, for accurately recording the works of scientists, p laywrights, and philosophers, and for making economic transactions more reliable. In the minds o f the city's more philosophically oriented citizens, this combination of physical, musical, an d intellectual development also satisfied an appreciation for harmony and balance in the human c haracter. While music and reading were probably taught in th e same school, the study of gymnastics was carried out at a special location, c alled a palaestra, which consisted of changing


6 of 28rooms and an exercise field. The gymnastics teacher was expected to have an organized method of instruction which would improve stamina, strengt h, and agility, while keeping the risk of injury to a minimum. Physical trainers also seem to have to provided their students with nutritional advice (Plato, 1937). Children began th eir gymnastics training by performing aerobic exercise routines to build stamina and flexibility. As their bodies and skills developed, they were taught javelin and discus tossing, a variety of bal l-games and other sports, and also wrestling and boxing. At writing school, then as now, the child was firs t taught to recognize and write the letters of the alphabet. For the youngest children, this wa s done through song, and there is even a fragmentary play that survives from late in the 4th century B.C. in which the actors represented letters and formed syllables by pairing up with one another in the appropriate poses (Freeman, 1904). Once the child had learned his alphabet, he was taught to write on a folding wooden tablet covered with wax, into which he would etch letters with the pointed end of a stylus, and rub them out with the wide end. At first the writing teacher would lightly trace the letters, and the student would then scratch his pen over them in order to le arn how to draw their shapes. Once he had mastered this step, the child would begin to write on his own (Plato, 1937). As Athenian culture broadened and developed, the e lementary school curriculum developed with it. More and more parents began to s eek drawing and painting instruction for their children, and by Aristotle's time this had be come a common option. Several generations later, these arts were considered a fourth core sub ject area, being studied by virtually all pupils (Marrou, 1965). Adaptation to the changing demands of parents and students was in fact a hallmark of Athenian education. Each step in the ev olution of the society was matched by a corresponding change in the offerings of educators. The philosophers and scientists of the day were continually pushing forward the frontiers of h uman understanding, establishing in their wake a demand for a deeper and more comprehensive l evel of education. At the same time, the democratic franchise was extended to an ever larger segment of the population, and the powers of the assembly were growing apace. In order to win po pular support in this vibrant democracy, it became necessary for would-be statesmen to not only offer compelling policies, but also to deliver them with clarity and elegance. Training in oratory was thus an important political asset. Together, the emerging educational demands of polit ics and science made higher-level teaching an economically viable endeavor. Athenians not only wanted to become better educated, they were willing to pay for it. This market niche was q uickly filled by a new entrepreneurial class of teachers, known as sophists, anxious to earn a livi ng from their scholarly pursuits. At first, when the demand for higher-learning in a ny one community was still limited, the sophists traveled from city to city, holding forth on whatever topic they felt confident to teach, and for which there were eager pupils. When the flo w of students had ebbed at a given location, they would once again resume their journey. Recruit ing new pupils was always an important task for the sophists, since their livelihoods depended on it. The most common technique used to this end was the presentation of free public lectures in the town square, which allowed them to demonstrate their talents and whet the intellectual appetites of prospective students. Fortunately for the sophists, the spread of learning served not to diminish but rather to increase the demand for their services. As more and more people became better educated, the value of an education increased. It became necessary for anyone with hope s of public office or success in law or commerce to expand their educational horizons. This trend was not lost on elementary school masters who eventually began to diversify into the new secondary and higher education markets by offering advanced classes to adults and children over the age of fourteen. For many years, however, the bulk of higher-education was still car ried out by the wandering professors. While rhetoric and the sciences were the most comm on fields of study, the range of subjects taught by the sophists was astonishingly d iverse. The curious student might choose from "mathematics (including arithmetic, geometry, and a stronomy), grammar, etymology, geography,


7 of 28natural history [i.e. biology, horticulture, etc.], the laws of meter and rhythm, history..., politics ethics, the criticism of religion, mnemonics, logic tactics and strategy, music, drawing and painting, scientific athletics." (Freeman, 1904). L ectures were held in open spaces outdoors, in the homes of the teachers, and occasionally in buil dings borrowed or leased for the purpose. There appear to have been no age restrictions on th ese lectures, and so any student both interested and capable of participating was permitt ed to do so. Gradually, as the higher educational market mature d, a few fixed schools were established in Athens. In addition to Plato's Academy and Arist otle's Lyceum, neither of which charged a fee due to the wealth and preferences of their founders several for-profit secondary schools were in existence by the turn of the fourth century B.C. On ly a few of these were sufficiently famous to come down to us by name, and of these the best know n is the school of Isocrates. Contrary to Plato, Isocrates argued that knowledge without appl ication was useless. He said, "I hold that man wise who can usually think out the best course to t ake and that man a philosopher who seeks to gain that insight."(Hamilton, 1957) Though reported ly too shy to become prominent in public life, Isocrates was extremely successful-both finan cially and by popular acclaim-in teaching the art of public speaking to others. This, coupled wit h his pragmatic lessons on applied philosophy and mathematics, attracted a significant body of st udents to his lectures. A greater number, it seems, than was to be found at the Academy. More re markable though, and in a way more emphatically Athenian, was the school of Aspasia. Defying the norms and prejudices of the day, this Milesian-born woman set up shop in Athens teaching philosophy and rhetoric, and unabas hedly advocated the liberation and education of the city's women. According to Plato, her lectur es attracted such towering figures as Socrates and Pericles, the latter of whom eventually became her lover and life-long companion. When asked of his ability to improvise a speech (in Plat o's dialogue "Menexenus"), Socrates avowed that he was up to the task, and referring to Aspasi a, added "I have an excellent mistress in the art of rhetoric-she who has made so many good speakers. "(Plato, 1937) The philosopher goes on to suggest that one of the most famous speeches in anc ient history, the funeral oration by Pericles, was actually written by her, and though there is li ttle substantiation of this claim in the historical literature it certainly implies a healthy respect f or her abilities on the part of Plato. Demonstratin g the breadth of her appeal, Aspasia's school also at tracted a large number of girls from well-to-do families, an emancipatory innovation that drew hars h criticism from many in the older generation (Durant, 1939). What is perhaps most significant ab out this case is the fact that, despite the intensely sexist climate of the city, the majority was not able to prevent Aspasia from opening her school and reaching out to the disenfranchised fema le population. In stark contrast to the freedom and diversity of Athens, the central idea of Spartan society was that individuals and families should not be lef t to make their own decisions in matters of importance such as education, marriage, or employme nt. Instead, Spartans were called upon to second their own interests to the collective will o f the people, as interpreted by their part aristocratic, part democraticallyelected governme nt. Supporting this sweeping centralization of authority was a monolithic educational apparatus ru n by the state, to which all citizens were compelled to send their sons (here again, the educa tion of girls received less attention than that of boys). At age seven, all the male children were sep arated from their families and brought to live in school dormitories. The nature of their learning environment is well-captured by the terms used to describe them. A troop of boys was referred to as a "boua", the same word used for a herd of cattle, and from each herd, a dominant boy was c hosen to act as herd-leader. With satisfying consistency, their head teacher was called "paidono mus", or boy-herdsman. This individual was chosen from the aristocracy, and granted the author ity to train the boys, and to harshly discipline them if any failed to follow his instructions. In h is efforts, he was assisted by two "floggers" armed with whips (Xenophon, 1988). The children were administered an education consis ting almost exclusively of sports,


8 of 28endurance training, and fighting. When questions we re posed to the students, a prompt reply was expected, and those who failed to answer to the tea cher's satisfaction were regarded as incompetent, and given a bite on the thumb or some similar punishment. Arithmetic is not mentioned as a part of the curriculum by any of Spa rta's chroniclers, and few people could count beyond the smallest numbers. Students were perhaps introduced to letters, but certainly "no more than was necessary,"(Plutarch, 1988) and since book s and written law were virtually non-existent in Sparta, this could not have been much at all. Is ocrates did not hesitate to observe that the Spartans "have fallen so far behind our common cult ure and learning that they do not even try to instruct themselves in letters." (Isocrates, 1982) Speech and writing were further discouraged by an outright prohibition on learning rhetoric, the v iolation of which was a punishable offense (Sextus Empiricus, 1987). Educational innovation, w hether it involved additions to the curriculum or the adoption of new techniques in the existing wrestling and military training, were strictly forbidden. At dinner time boys were fed simple hearty meals, but were served deliberately small portions so that they would constantly be hungry if this were their only source of sustenance. To supplement this meager fare, children were encourag ed to steal. Theft was in fact a central feature of Spartan education. The city's leaders be lieved that, if you want an army that thinks nothing of pillaging neighboring states, it is exce edingly helpful to have citizens accustomed to robbing their neighbors. While those caught stealin g were severely punished, it was for failing to get away with the crime, rather than for attempting it in the first place. Skill in theft was considered a noble accomplishment, and, according t o Isocrates, it paved the way to the highest political offices (Isocrates, 1982). Of course, stu dents were encouraged to steal primarily from the subjugated peasant and slave populations rather than from other citizens. By the time they had reached the age of eighteen, Spartan youths were tough, fit, ruthless, but also inexperienced. The missing element in thei r training was provided by an institution known as the "krypteia." Young men were gathered in to bands and dispatched to the countryside where they would have to hunt and steal to survive. Their primary mission, however, was to attack their own peasant population whenever the op portunity arose, killing those who had the audacity to defend themselves. This savagery appare ntly seemed criminal even to the Spartans, for the elected officials would annually declare wa r on their own serfs, giving the bloodshed at least a veneer of legality. Having described the different approaches to schoo ling in Athens and Sparta, we can look to the conditions of their people for a reflection of the effects of those systems. We cannot, of course, attribute all of the differences between At henian and Spartan civilizations to their schools, but formal education clearly played an inf luential role. To the classical Greeks, Athens was the "school of Hellas" and the "metropolis of wisdom." Of the three most influential philosophers in Western antiquity-Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle-the first two were Athenian citizens, and the third a resident alien, studying and teaching in the city for much of his life. The grea test Western historian of the period, Thucydides, was Athenian, and his successor, Xenophon, though a n ardent admirer of Spartan militancy, was born and raised just over fifteen miles from Athens Sophocles and Aristophanes, from whose minds flowed the most profound tragedy and biting s atire in the literature of ancient Greece, were also natives of the city of Athena. But what of the public at large? One particularly useful indication of the general level of learning in the city is the proportion of citizens who were literate. A variety of techniques have been used to estimate Athenian literacy, primarily centering on the reading required for participation in public life, the archeological evi dence of writing on pottery fragments and the like, and references to reading in contemporary pla ys and prose works. By all accounts, Athens was the most literate society in the Western world at that time. William Harris, the most skeptical and influential recent writer on the subject, is at great pains to demonstrate that literacy was not


9 of 28as widespread in ancient times as had been previous ly thought, but even he relents somewhat in his discussion of Athens. He writes that "among the well to do, practically all males must have been literate" (Harris, 1989, p. 103). Harris negle cts to offer an estimate of literacy among urban Athenian citizens, saying only that at least 15% of the male population as a whole, including the surrounding areas, was literate. Using his own data and arguments, it is fair to say that perhaps twice that percentage of city-dwellers were able to read, and most of these would have been able to write as well. Conversely, literacy among the ru ral population was probably at about half the overall level. This difference was due in large par t to the greater frequency with which farming families required the labor of their children, thus leaving them fewer years during which to attend school. Similar constraints affected the urban poor who had to apprentice their children to a craft at perhaps the age of 11 or 12. Pedagogical freedom and market pressures both allo wed and encouraged Athenian educators to make great strides. Independent Atheni an schools were the first to introduce games as a pedagogical tool, and to reduce the use of cor poral punishment-ubiquitous in Egypt and Sparta-to the exception rather than the rule. Eleme ntary schools altered their curricula to meet changing parental demands, and an entirely new educ ational institution, secondary schooling, was brought into being as a result of market forces In the words of Adam Smith: The demand for such [higher] instruction produced, what it always produces, the talent for giving it; and the emulation which an un restrained competition never fails to excite, appears to have brought that talent to a very high degree of perfection. (Smith, 1994, p. 837) These achievements, so far ahead of contemporary p ractice, went hand in hand with the spirit of freedom and community that pervaded Athen ian society. Without resort to government intervention or coercion, Athens enjoyed not only a n explosion of artistic, literary, and scientific work, but also a thriving economy. The depth and br eadth of Athenian commercial life was by far the greatest of any city in Europe at the time, comparing favorably even with cities that existed centuries later. By allowing youths and adu lts to pursue a wide range of studies, the Athenians fostered a labor-market of exceptional di versity. The existence of skilled apprenticeships ensured a talented pool of craftsme n, while training in writing and mathematics made possible ever larger and more complex business transactions. Isocrates observed that "the articles which it is difficult to get, one here, on e there, from the rest of the world, all these it i s easy to buy in Athens." (Durant, 1939) In support o f its vigorous shipping industry, Athens even offered a variety of financial and insurance servic es, which required both literacy and numeracy. As economic historian Rondo Cameron points out: Some cities, such as Athens, concentrated a number of commercial and financial functions within their boundaries in much the same way as Antwerp, Amsterdam, London, and New York did in subsequent eras. Bankin g, insurance, joint-stock ventures, and a number of other economic institutio ns that are associated with later epochs already existed in embryonic form in classic al Greece (1993, p. 35). The picture which comes down to us of Sparta in th e 5th and 4th centuries B.C. is a very different one. Parents had no direct say in the edu cation or upbringing of their children, having to cede their responsibilities and desires to a single monolithic system. Innovations in language instruction and even physical training were suppres sed by central control, leaving teachers without autonomy or flexibility. Sparta had virtual ly no science or literature, and little art. Her legacy to modern times is negligible, apart from be ing a beacon to totalitarians at the time of the French revolution and the rise of the Third Reich i n Germany. Social stability, the result of voluntary association in Athens, was maintained by innumerable forms of government coercion


10 of 28and regulation, particularly in education. Though one or two historians have attempted to sho w the existence of literacy among the common people in Sparta, there is a dearth of evide nce to support their claims. Apart from the kings and perhaps a few generals and magistrates-wh o communicated with one another on "code sticks"-the Spartans were an illiterate people. The ir economy was basic, and far more dependent upon slave and serf labor than that of Athens. The citizen class was allowed only to train for war in the state schools, and could neither acquire a b roader learning nor apprentice themselves to skilled tradesmen. Trade was in fact actively disco uraged by the Spartan government, in an effort to keep its people focused on an ascetic military l ifestyle. In this, they were eminently successful. Germany and The Reformation In a bustling German town, in the year 1500, a pub lic notice proclaimed that "Everybody now wants to read and to write" (Schwickerath, 1904 ). Though this was still something of an exaggeration, it captured the spirit of the time. W ith the invention of the printing press, books became cheaper and more widespread throughout Europ e, making literacy in the common languages of its people a practical and valuable sk ill for the first time in a thousand years. It also came within reach of a larger segment of the popula tion, thanks to the diversification of the economy and the appearance of a small but growing m iddle class who could afford both books and teachers' fees. Since the fall of the Roman Empire, education in t he West had been the prerogative of the Catholic clergy, and Latin had been their language of choice. Naturally, as the demand for literacy grew, the middle classes turned first to t his traditional seat of learning for instruction. Two factors soon changed this practice. The most no table was that an increasing number of citizens wished to learn German rather than Latin, and the church had little inclination to oblige them. As a result, the demand for German literacy w as met by entirely private schools that introduced both children and adults to the perennia l basics for a small fee. These popular independent schools spread rapidly in the larger to wns, but were less numerous in villages and rural areas. The second cause of change in the prov ision of education was the desire of the public for greater control over the schools. As townspeopl e still favoring an education in Latin contributed more generously to their local parish e ducational funds, building new schools and retaining more teachers, they sought proportionatel y greater control over school staffing and curriculum. This did not sit at all well with the c lerics who had until then been responsible for such decisions, and they often resisted any circums cription of their authority. Many considered it the fundamental right of the Church to control educ ation. In the majority of cases, however, the citizens eventually won out, and city councils beca me the primary authorities over the schools formerly run by the clergy. Because clerics made up the vast majority of those capable of giving Latin instruction, most teachers in "city schools," as they came to be called, continued to be members of the clergy. School costs at these quasipublic institutions were paid for with a combination of tuition fees and taxes, broadening a ccess, while still leaving some incentive for the students or their parents to ensure that they w ere receiving value for their money. The new trends towards private schooling and local communit y control were derailed, however, by one of the largest social upheavals in European history. The Reformation threw German schooling into chaos. Schools staffed or run by the clergy closed down as monks and nuns abandoned their conve ntal lives in droves. The process was accelerated by the nobility, who seized the opportu nity to close all the monasteries that remained, excepting those that had adopted Protestantism. Fin ally, after several decades, new schools started to appear. Free enterprise elementary schoo ls, which had been the least affected by the turmoil, were the first to recover. The printing in dustry had been central to the success of Protestant reform, and the demand for instruction i n reading and writing that it had helped to


11 of 28spread remained strong. The efforts of private citi zens to educate themselves were once again cut short, however, by one of Luther's close associates ; a scholar named Melanchthon. Apparently believing that he knew what was best for the people Melanchthon called for the creation of a government-run school system. With the help of Luth er and the nobility of various German states, he was successful, and soon the existing pr ivate elementary schools were joined by state institutions. Because they were paid for by taxes r ather than tuition fees, the new schools tended to make private instruction financially burdensome. Parents who wished to send their children to a private school had to pay both for it and for the state schools as well. Private schools were further discouraged by the attitudes and actions of the new state educational authorities, who derided and persecuted them (Paulsen, 1908). Attemp ts were even made to legislate private instruction out of existence (Cole, 1960), and in r esponse they were sometimes forced to carry on their classes clandestinely. Though these "hedge sc hools" survived into the 17th and 18th centuries, they were marginalized by the growing st ate educational system. Melanchthon's vision for mass education was inspir ed by the guiding principle of the reformation: the direct interpretation of the bible by individuals. The practice, however, was substantially different from its inspiration. If sc riptural analysis was left to laymen, so the argument went, "incorrect" interpretations might re sult. The definition of what was incorrect was of course established by the leaders of the Reforma tion. As a result, reading, writing, and religion were taught using a pair of elementary catechisms c omposed by Luther. While he genuinely wished to improve the lot of children, Luther's vie ws on what sort of education was acceptable were narrow and authoritarian. He felt that secular schools would lead to moral bankruptcy, and believed that parents should be compelled to teach their children according to his own views. Despite the spread of independent schools, he wrote to the reigning political authorities that: "It is to you, my lords, to take this task [education] in hand, for if we leave it to the parents, we will die a hundred times over before the thing would be done." (Chartier, 1976) Education once more became religious indoctrination, only this time it was legally mandated by the state. Fortunately for the majority of students who would not go on to a life in the clergy or government service, elementary instruction was given in their mother to ngue. The fate of Germany's city-schools was much the sa me as that of its private elementary schools. Political authorities at the state level w ere only slightly less hostile to local government institutions than they were to private enterprises. Pushed and squeezed by the state bureaucrats, city-schools found their curricula and attendance e ver more limited. At the same time, new staterun institutions were created and given special pri vileges which the city-schools were not permitted to offer, such as the right to send their graduates on to university or into particular professions. Occasionally, city-schools were simply taken over by the state out of hand. In the late 16th and early 17th centuries, their pupils we re mostly handpicked by local lords, with the remaining openings allotted to the children of town speople. Turning away from the popular movement towards education in German, and back to t he classical languages so dear to the hearts of reformers, school regulations typically ordained that the new state secondary schools would teach in Latin. Their curriculum, too, culminated i n the study of classical literature and scripture. Graduates were expected to converse fluently in Lat in and have a passing acquaintance with Greek. In this end they were quite successful, but their achievement came at a cost to German culture and society. Just prior to the Reformation there had been signi ficant overlap in the education of the nobility and the training of at least the more avid youngsters from the middle classes. Education had been in the mother tongue for all but the clerg y, and literate families in the towns and villages could and did share in the prose of their countrymen. Legal proceedings had also been held in German, allowing citizens to participate di rectly in any court actions which affected them. Once the strictly Latin secondary school system of the reformers was imposed, however, German gradually disappeared as a language of law and cult ure (Paulsen, 1908) This caused an ever


12 of 28greater rift between the uneducated masses and the learned elite which persisted for hundreds of years.On the Eve of the Modern World: England After the civil wars of the mid 17th century, Engl and was a country without a King. To cement their victory, the Puritan rebels abolished the House of Lords, withdrew the political powers of the bishops, and executed King Charles I on the grounds that his continued existence might encourage royalist revolt. They had little ti me to enjoy their newfound authority, however, as they were themselves deposed only eleve n years later. In 1660 the monarchy was restored, and all its political and religious trapp ings with it. To forestall any further Puritan uprisings a host of restrictive laws were put in pl ace against them. The Corporation Act of 1661 restricted public office to Anglicans, and it was q uickly followed by the broader Act of Uniformity. Under this new legislation, educators a t all levels were forced to sign a declaration of conformity to the Church of England's liturgy, and to give their oaths of allegiance to the crown. Nonconformists were thus prohibited from teaching i n public and private schools, and their ministers were forbidden from coming within five mi les of where they had once preached. As political winds shifted over the next hundred y ears, the repressive religious and educational laws were at times ignored and at other s reasserted. Having been forced to retreat from public life, the Puritans focused their energi es on trade and commerce, expanding the middle class and thus the market for innovative sch ools. To satisfy this growing demand, a few private, fee-charging academies began to appear, fo unded illegally in many instances by nonconformist ministers who had been ejected from the teaching profession. In an effort to attract both dissenting and Anglican families, these school s offered an updated, predominantly secular curriculum with an emphasis on English, mathematics and the natural sciences. One such school, operating in Tottenham in the 1670s, taught "geometry, arithmetic, astronomy and geography, with gardening, dancing, singing and mus ic" in addition to English and some Latin (Lawson & Silver, 1973). Traditional endowed gramma r schools, on the other hand, assured of a steady income independent of their ability to attra ct students, continued to provide the same classical Latin training they had offered since the Middle Ages. The polarization of these two forms of schooling, and their respective fates, cle arly illustrate the role of market incentives in the educational process. The continued growth and diversification of the ec onomy dramatically widened the disparity between the content of traditional educat ion and the needs of the commercial and professional classes. Together with the decline of the Church as an employer, this shift diminished whatever economic advantage the old syll abus might have conferred. Critics denounced the grammar schools as moribund and irrel evant, while parents increasingly sought more practical alternatives. As a result, the conse rvative endowed schools began to lose middle class pupils to the few private academies that had sprung up in the late sixteen-hundreds. Within a few decades this burgeoning change had solidified into a steep recession for traditional education, and a proliferation of new private acade mies. In the 18th century, grammar schools continued their descent, as few new ones were opene d, some closed, and the rest saw their enrollments drop significantly. When Nicholas Carli sle conducted his multi-year investigation of hundreds of endowed schools in the early 19th centu ry, he found many of them had lost touch with their prospective customers, and showed visibl e signs of decay. In Stourbridge, for example, he found that the school had taught only a trifling number of students over the preceding forty years, "as Classical learning is in little estimati on in a commercial town." (Carlisle, 1818, v. II, p 773) Despite the fact that Stourbridge's grammar sc hool sometimes had no pupils at all, both its head and assistant masters continued to draw their full salaries. This was in fact not unusual, as masters, once awarded tenure and assigned a fixed s alary, were virtually impossible to remove,


13 of 28even in cases of serious neglect (Lawson & Silver, 1973). Endowed grammar schools were not entirely beyond t he reach of market forces, however. In the many cases where the endowment was low, scho olmasters generally took the financially expedient steps of recruiting private pupils or tak ing on outside employment to increase their income, necessarily reducing the time they had for their endowment students. Others, such as those at Donington and Cuckfield, taught only one o r two "free" (endowment) students, while conducting private lessons with scores of paying st udents on the foundations' premises (Carlisle, 1818, p. 345, 597). Finally there were masters who simply converted the school buildings into private residences, took no pupils of any kind, and continued to draw their stipend. Despite these systemic problems, there were schools led by dedica ted masters able to make do with their allotted salary, that continued to instruct their p upils on the language and literature of ancient Greece and Rome. To the extent that endowed schools modernized their curricula to attract students, however, it was due primarily to the fina ncial imperative. In direct proportion to the decline in health and popularity of endowed grammar schools, private institutions grew and flourished. Subjects long ignored by the grammar schools began to appear, and soon entirely new ones were added. Arit hmetic and geography were among the first, and these were joined by anatomy, biology, bookkeep ing, economics, surveying, naval studies, and many others. While sometimes maintaining vestig es of the traditional curriculum, private institutions usually allotted them less time and im portance than the new subjects. At St. Domingo House School, for example, Latin instruction was gi ven but only after the children had received several years of training in French and German (Roa ch, 1986, p. 127). Not only were the subjects new, but the methods were often innovative as well. In keeping with the applied scientific nature of many of the courses, experiments using telescope s, microscopes and other devices complemented the familiar teaching methods. The tea chers of Hill Top School conducted lessons with marbles to give children an intuitive grasp of arithmetic before introducing them to numbers and word problems. Physical surveying was used to t each trigonometry at the same institution (Roach, 1986, p. 124). One of the most concrete sig ns of the different attitude of the private schools was that many catered to girls, while gramm ar schools did not. Though the curriculum for girls was sometimes less academically ambitious and always included ample emphasis on morals, manners, and domestic skills, it was at lea st a step forward. For the very poorest families, who usually had no interest in a classical education and who could not afford the tuition at the better private institutions, two options remained; religious charity schools and private Dame schools. Though ch arity schools generally taught basic reading skills, they suffered from the same conflict of goa ls as the grammar schools. Just as the wealthy donors who endowed grammar schools generally insist ed on a traditional Latin curriculum, the middle-class religious societies that funded charit y schools had ideas all their own as to what the poor should learn, and these only rarely took into account the interests of the poor themselves. The central purpose was always to inculcate the mor al and religious views of the sponsors. A widely held view among religious societies was that "Reading will help to mend people's morals, but writing is not necessary." (Smith, 1931, p. 53) An additional problem with religious charity schools was that the teachers were appointed and su pported by religious authorities, rather than by the educational marketplace. Since those oversee ing charity schools rarely had children attending them, there was little incentive for them to ensure the teacher's competency. Sometimes sound selections were nonetheless made, but in the worst cases masters were appointed who would never have been able to draw paying students. In Yorkshire, for instance, a "very deaf and ignorant" teacher was appointed by the parochial au thorities "that he may not be burdensome to them for his support." (Lawson & Silver, 1973) Not surprisingly, the appeal of these schools was limited. Despite the fact that private schools char ged tuition, "the subsidized, endowed and charity schools of Manchester attracted only 8 perc ent of all those attending schools and there were empty places available." (Royle, 1990)


14 of 28 The ubiquitous Dame schools, usually located in th e home of an elderly local widow, also varied widely in quality based on the knowledge and skills of individual teachers. Competition generally kept the fees for such schools at a minim al level, however, and the freedom of families to chose among different teachers ensured that thos e who failed to meet their client's expectations could remain in business for only a short time. Des pite their many shortcomings, Dame schools taught far more students from even the poorest clas ses than did charity schools, and, as we shall see below, they succeeded in most cases at conveyin g the rudiments the English language. The major religious denominations were not entirel y beyond the reach of competitive incentives, however, as is evidenced by the rise of the monitorial system. Monitorial schools, in which the brightest students taught all the rest, d rew enormous interest around the turn of the 19th century due to their ability to reach far grea ter numbers of children at a lesser cost. A single schoolmaster, after imparting the day's lessons to his core of "monitors", could simply sit back and supervise as they carried out the bulk of the i nstruction. Of course, the quality of instruction depended on the presence of sufficient numbers of b right and capable students, and in some cases was probably only a small improvement over no educa tion at all. Financially, however, the case was clear. The economy of having only one teacher f or an entire school meant that formal education could reach even the poorest families. Th is ability to reach a much larger audience quickly caught the attention of the Church of Engla nd, in large part because the first monitorial schools had been run by a Quaker, Joseph Lancaster, along nondenominational lines. The prospect of having so many children educated in wha t was a predominantly secular environment was anathema to the Church, and so it set about cre ating its own monitorial system with the elephantine title of "The National Society for Prom oting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church." Wherever Lan caster had founded a school, the National Society created one of its own with which to compet e. Soon the Church of England's network had grown vastly larger than that of its adversary. In keeping with its other educational efforts, the Church's monitorial schools were "instituted pr incipally for Educating the Poor in the Doctrine and Discipline of the Established Church." (National Society, 1972, p. 50) These schools were not intended to provide children a ste pping stone to higher studies, but rather to fit them to their positions at the bottom of the social and economic hierarchy. In strictly regimented lessons the pupils were taught to be satisfied with their subservient role in life. Due to this doctrinaire style and the curricular limitations im posed by the Church, monitorial schools failed to transform English education. Dame schools and ot her private ventures continued to reach a greater number of children than the religious chari table institutions (Royle, 1990). By the second half of the 19th century, the govern mental role in education had increased substantially. The main religious educational socie ties were now subsidized by parliament in an effort to improve the opportunities of the poor, an d state inspectors visited their schools. Friction was high between Church and state over the proper d istribution of regulatory and funding powers, and many within the government felt there w as insufficient emphasis in the schools on basic subjects and younger grades. In 1862 a "Revis ed Code" for education was passed into law with the well-intentioned goal of bringing competit ion and the profit motive into education. The "Payment by Results" program, as it came to be know n, stipulated that schools should be paid based on a combination of attendance and student pe rformance on tests administered by state inspectors. What the Council members failed to unde rstand was that by placing the financial strings in the hands of state inspectors instead of families, they would pull the attention of teachers and administrators away from the pupils an d towards the government. Failing to satisfy the inspector meant a significant loss in funding, perhaps even forcing the school out of business, while receiving a positive review increased the ins titution's income. Student learning, insofar as it was not measured by the inspector, was of little financial consequence. The results were tragic. Even before the legislation was passed a few obser vers warned that payment based on a few simple tests would encourage teachers to curtai l their instruction in other subjects. In the


15 of 28event, these fears were fully realized. Years after the system had been put into practice, T. H. Huxley observed: "the Revised Code did not compel a ny schoolmaster to leave off teaching anything; but, by the very simple process of refusi ng to pay for many kinds of teaching, it has practically put an end to them" (Lawson & Silver, 1 973). The testing system consisted of six separate levels, and since children could not be te sted at the same level twice, or at a lower level from any previous attempt, schools held back older students so that they could be made to progress through all six levels, bringing in the ma ximum amount of cash over their educational lifetime. To ensure top scores at inspection time, teachers adopted frequent testing and memorization sessions. Often the children were made to learn their entire reading texts by rote so that they would have the least chance of failing. W hile some inspectors attempted to subvert these ploys by supplying an altered text or by aski ng the student to read backwards, others simply passed them: "I consider it to be my duty according to the letter of the Code, to pass every child who can read correctly and with tolerable fluency, whether he or she understand or not a single sentence or a single word of the lesson" (Smith, 19 31). Reports from inspectors repeated the same criticism time and again, namely, that student s were simply being made to memorize words without understanding their meaning. After years of experience with the system, the Cross Commission confirmed these views, faulting the teac hing of reading under the Revised Code for being "too mechanical and unintelligent" (Vincent, 1989). Matthew Arnold (1972), the best known of the inspectors, summed up the consensus am ong his colleagues: I find in [English schools], in general, if I compa re them with their former selves, a deadness, a slackness, and a discouragement... If I compare them with the schools of the continent I find in them a lack of intelligent life much more striking now than it was when I returned from the continent in 1859. Not only the education but even the welfare of man y children was sacrificed under this system. If a child was absent on the day of the ins pection, even if gravely ill, the school would lose his or her attendance allocation. As a result it was not unheard of for school masters to compel children stricken with serious, even infecti ous, diseases to attend. One inspector observed that: To hear paroxysms of whooping-cough, to observe the pustules of small-pox, to see infants carefully wrapped up and held in their moth ers' arms, or seated on a stool by the fire because too ill to take their proper place s, are events not so rare in an inspector's experience as they ought to be. The ris k of the infant's life, and the danger of infection to others, are preferred to the forfei ture of a grant of 6s. 6d. (Smith, 1931) Teachers, forced by financial necessity to provide only the narrowest education to their students, lost all spirit and enthusiasm for their work. Their vocation had been reduced to a game of cat and mouse between the school and the inspect or, in which teachers had to learn how to manipulate the system in order to be successful. Despite its significant impact on schooling, the R evised Code was not the government's most lasting intervention into education. In 1870, W. E. Forster's Education Act added state provision of schooling to its existing roles in fun ding and inspection. Local school boards were created across the country to fill perceived gaps i n the existing network of private and subsidized schools. Over the next several decades, state autho rity was progressively increased, attendance was made mandatory for children between ages 5 and 13, and tuition fees were gradually reduced to zero by 1918. Analyzing the changes in literacy and student enro llment that occurred in the 19th century provides additional insight into the relative roles of independent and state schools. The most


16 of 28systematic evidence on literacy during this time pe riod, both in England and elsewhere, is the frequency with which newlyweds signed their marriag e documents-as opposed to simply making a mark. A strong argument can be made that this mea sure is more accurately described as a negative indicator of illiteracy, since the level o f writing ability necessary for signing one's name is minimal, but its usefulness in the absence of ot her reliable statistical evidence is widely accepted. What these data show is that literacy inc reased steadily from 67.3% in 1841 to 93.6% in 1891, reaching 97.2% by 1900 (West, 1994). In in terpreting this evidence it must be kept in mind that the difference between the mean school le aving age and the mean age of marriage was approximately 17 years. In other words, the 67.3% l iteracy rate already existing in 1841 cannot be attributed in any way to the initiation of state subsidization, which took place only 8 years earlier. Furthermore, the achievement of 94% litera cy in 1891 was accomplished almost entirely before the Forster Education Act of 1870 had had ti me to generate an effect on the adult population. West has also shown that literacy was o n the rise well before 1841. The trend in school enrollment was substantially s imilar to that in literacy. The number of children in schools rose "from 478,000 in 1818 to 1 ,294,000 in 1834 `without any interposition of the government or public authorities.'" (West, 1 994, p. 172) Between 1841 and 1850, the number of unsubsidized private schools grew from 68 8 to 3,754, while subsidized and endowed schools only increased from 415 to 616. Given the r apid rise in enrollment already under way prior to 1870, and the fact that subsidized Board S chools drew many of their customers away from existing private schools, West observes that i t is difficult to discern any additional growth in enrollment that could be reasonably attributed t o the Forster Education Act. These figures, particularly for the early years of the 19th century, bear witness to the willingness of even the poorer and less well-educat ed parents to see to the education of their children, without state compulsion or supervision. Not only were poor parents sufficiently responsible to send their children to school, they also demonstrated a commendable level of selectivity among their various options. The relati ve failure of subsidized charity schools to attract parents, as compared to Dame and other feecharging schools, indicates that parents were not only able to choose, but were willing to incur a financial burden in order to do so. The behavior of teachers in private and subsidized schools is also telling. For more than a hundred years, the private academies of England wer e the only option for parents seeking a modern curriculum in language, technology, and scie nce. The demand for practical instruction in accounting, surveying, applied sciences, naval skil ls, and other disciplines key to economic diversification and a higher standard of living wer e met almost entirely by private teachers. Tenured grammar school masters hung onto their limi ted Latin and Greek curriculum well beyond its period of usefulness, while religious ch arity schools often down-played the teaching of writing. Under the Revised Code, the incentive for subsidized-school teachers to satisfy the needs of families was further reduced, while a powerful n ew incentive to satisfy the baseline requirements of the inspectors was created, with di re results. France After the Revolution French education, even more so than that of other European nations, was the battle ground for an epic religious and political power struggle. From monarchy to republic and back again, the revolutionaries strove to use the schools to shore up their position, vying for control with the firmly entrenched Catholic Church. It seems natural to suppose that on the eve of the revolution, with its emphasis on human rights and freedoms, the manipulation of education for political and religious ends would have lessened substantially. T his, however, was not the case. The government that eventually emerged, while revolutio nary in many respects, continued the age old tradition of using schools as a tool. In order to u ndermine the power of its primary opponent, the Catholic clergy, parliament severed all ties betwee n education and religion. Nuns and priests


17 of 28were ordered to sign a constitution restricting the ir freedom to teach according to their faith. Since compliance with this order was difficult to a chieve, the government soon resorted to a more direct approach: outlawing the clergy entirely In one of history's more remarkable contradictions, the revolutionaries argued that a t ruly free nation could suffer no religious or secular societies amongst its citizens, and so abol ished them (Chevallier, 1969). Simply wearing religious garb became a crime (Gontard, 1959). Without a well-organized transitional strategy, sc hooling quickly began to collapse. Like Emperor Nero fiddling as Rome burned, the French pa rliament continued to debate exactly what the new system should look like as the old one crum bled around them. A genuinely revolutionary minority defended the right of families to choose t heir schools, whether sectarian or otherwise, but their voices were lost amidst a majority who be lieved the only choice was between moderate and absolute state control over education. So ferve nt was the belief in the power of the state and of the value of forced equality, that proposals for a totalitarian system much like Sparta's were put forward, in which children were to be taken awa y from their parents and educated in government communes. According to the delegate Le P elletier, "The totality of the child's existence belongs to us [the state]; the clay, if I may express myself thus, never leaves the mold." (Ponteil, 1966) Eventually a school law was passed, making attenda nce mandatory and requiring instructors to sign a "civic certificate" restricti ng their right to provide sectarian religious instruction. In place of the old catholic teachings a new "natural religion" was imposed on the youth of France. Students were issued catechisms wh ich admonished them to "worship Reason and the Supreme Being," in the deistic republican f ashion (Barnard 1969). Having stripped away the traditional religious aspects of schooling, par liament had made teaching decidedly unattractive to the priests and nuns who comprised the vast majority of educators. The supply of willing teachers was thus reduced to a trickle. Eve n where teachers were to be found, many families resented both the intrusion of the state i nto their lives, and the ouster of Catholicism, and so kept their children at home. Though government p olicy had interrupted the existing supply of education, demand remained largely undiminished. So in the gap created by the failure of state schools, independent religious institutions began t o reappear. Unsurprisingly, these new schools were viewed by the republican parliamentary majorit y as strongholds of fanatics and royalists, to be "struck down" and "annihilated." The continued a ffinity of many citizens for traditional institutions was itself viewed as a sign of ignoran ce and lack of learning. Ten years after the revolution the French educatio nal scene looked like precisely what it was; a battle field. The general consensus of local officials and national observers was that an already weak system had been made worse. Report aft er report flowed into Paris, each lamenting the sad condition or complete absence of elementary schools. In the midst of this bleak educational landscape, a small group of philanthrop ists perceived what they thought might be an oasis. Having encountered and been impressed by Eng lish monitorial schools on a number of occasions, these men believed the system could help to circumvent the teacher shortage from which their country was suffering, while also repla cing the outdated individual instructional technique with more effective group teaching. So, i n June of 1815, the first French monitorial school was opened in Paris. From its original handful of students the new scho ol rapidly grew to an enrollment in the hundreds. Its success was widely praised and by the fall several other monitorial schools had appeared. Beyond the cost-effectiveness of the meth od, several of its pedagogical innovations attracted significant attention. Monitorial schools cast aside the existing practice of teaching reading and writing as entirely distinct skills, wi th excellent results. They furthermore grouped students by aptitude in each particular subject rat her than strictly by age, allowing the children to progress through the curriculum at their own pace. Finally, in what seems an obvious move to modern readers, they taught to entire groups of stu dents at once, rather than individually to each


18 of 28child in succession. The one-onone method, wherei n most of the class would devolve into chaos as the teacher focused his or her attention o n a single student, had persisted in most church and state schools until the advent of the monitoria l system. Of course critics aptly pointed out that the system tended towards excessive regimentat ion, but the problem was at least less severe than in the monitorial schools of England's Nationa l Society. In practice the advantages of the approach seem to have outweighed its weaknesses, fo r mutual instruction, as it became known, soon spread through France. By January of 1819 ther e were already 602 monitorial schools. Later that same year the number had increased an astoundi ng 50%, to 912, and continued growing at that rate, reaching 1300 schools by February of 182 0 (Gontard, 1959). Not only did the system succeed in opening more schools faster than any pre vious approach, it was in such great demand that many existing schools were forced to adopt its techniques in order to compete. "Instructors following the old method, seeing their pupils deser t in order to run to the new one, are hurrying to adopt it themselves," observed a speaker at the general assembly in Paris (Gontard, 1959). Unprecedented in their popularity with the citizen ry, monitorial schools were nonetheless resented by the state and loathed by church. Manage d and funded as they were by either secular private charities or municipal authorities, they en joyed a significant measure of independence, making them difficult to manipulate by the establis hed powers. The two most invidious characteristics of the system, as seen by Church an d state, were its secularism and its meritocratic nature. Supporters of mutual education lauded the f act that it taught children "to obey merit... no matter who its repository may be," (Fouret & Ozouf, 1982) i.e. to disregard notions of social class, but the clergy argued that this would subver t the social order (Moody, 1978). The assembly and the University of Paris also feared they were l osing their hold on education, and so set out to regain it. In the years after its founding, the University of Paris had seen its role in primary and secondary schooling marginalized, and its influence atrophy. With education legislation pending in the assembly, its governors saw an opportunity t o reassert their authority. This task proved somewhat easier than might be expected due to the f act that most of the of those drafting the legislation were prominent members of the Universit y, committed to its control over all schools. The church was still a powerful force, however, and its lobbying won several compromises in the final law. The legislative patchwork thus created h ad bits to suit everyone, except, perhaps, the people of France: The University won a monopoly for granting the newly required teacher certifications; the Catholic Church was appeased by the requirement for thousands of regional supervisory committees, which its priests would hea d; and municipalities, due to their limited political influence, ended up with a few places on the Church's committees. Though nominally meant to ensure the competence of candidates, teacher certification was entirely divorced from instructional practice. The examiners, usually local college professors selected by the University, had little knowledge of a primary school environment they had neither experienced themselves nor perhaps even observed (P onteil, 1966). Usually too easy and sometimes too difficult, the uneven certification p rocess was of little help in improving the quality of instruction. Far more damaging than the haphazard certification of teachers was the requirement for regional school committees. Though headed up by loc al priests, these committees officially reported to the University, putting the Church in a subservient role. The clergy chafed at this limitation of their authority, and fought it with e very technique they could devise. In a vast number of cases they simply refused to convene meet ings, preferring to assume personal control over their local schools and school-masters. In tho se cases when the members did meet, internal squabbles were the norm, with the Catholic traditio nalists and liberal defenders of mutual education locked in unswerving opposition to one an other. Thanks to their organization and influence, the priests usually emerged victorious, picking whichever instructor best suited their needs. It was common for pious and acquiescent scho ol-masters to receive favorable treatment,


19 of 28being freed from any legal requirements which might disqualify them from teaching, while those educators with strong individual wills, or with mor e liberal views, were persecuted and criticized in the priests' reports. Committee members drawn from the local community w ere generally of little help in improving the process. Virtually all were otherwise employed and were neither willing nor able to spend a significant amount of time on the unsala ried position. With neither the experience nor the incentive to spur them on, their motivation qui ckly ebbed. Even proponents of the original law admitted its failure. In addressing parliament (Archives parlementaires, 1879), one of its founders, Guizot, made the following pronouncement: There are 2,846 cantons [in France]... For many yea rs we have expended considerable effort organizing cantonal committees, but we have managed to create only 1,031; moreover, these still exist only on pap er, there are hardly 200 that have taken any real action. The final nail in the coffin of independent school s was the resurgence of Catholic political power. In the early 1820's the Church won an import ant victory, having bishop Frayssinous appointed Grand Master of the University of Paris, and Minister of Ecclesiastical Affairs and Public Education. From this new position of influen ce the Church was able to push through legislation granting it wideranging powers over t eachers and schools. Classes were made to begin and end with prayers, its catechism was to be learned in daily lessons, and teachers were made increasingly answerable to the local priest. D ue to their generally secular nature, and the fact that their origins lay in English Protestantis m, monitorial schools were singled out for the fiercest attack. Priests leveraged their pulpits, d emonizing mutual-teaching and its supporters in sermon after sermon. After only a few years of this new regime, monitorial schools were all but extinguished: their numbers were reduced from 1500 in 1821, to 258 by 1827 (Ponteil, 1966). For the rest of the nineteenth century, the battle for control of education waged on. Though primary schooling reached an ever larger seg ment of the population, its nature at any given time continued to be decided by the faction w ith the greatest political clout. The degree of politicization and centralization of French schooli ng was well captured by the attitude of Hippolyte Fortoul, Minister of Ecclesiastical Affai rs and Public Education from 1851 to 1856. Drawing a watch from his pocket he boasted that "At this moment, all the students of the lycees [secondary schools] are explaining the same passage from Virgil." (Moody, 1978, p. 59) Under Fortoul, the hours, methods, and content of teachin g were all codified. Teachers were forced to swear an oath of loyalty, support official candidat es, and were even prohibited from growing beards or mustaches. Though the more liberal regimes of the eighties an d nineties sought to make state education accessible to the entire nation, they sto pped short of letting citizens decide exactly what kind of education was appropriate. Jules Ferry nominated minister of public instruction in 1880, believed that all French children had the rig ht to an education, but that the awarding of degrees must remain the prerogative of the state. T his tool, coupled with the government inspection of all schools, was necessary in his eye s to maintain national unity and a common morality, and to regulate access to public office. Two national teachers' colleges, founded in 1883, insured a new generation of educators free fr om the conservative royalist views of the clergy. (Ponteil, 1966) The traditional view of French educational history describes the 19th century as a period in which increased state intervention led to the expan sion of schooling and the wider dispersion of literacy and culture. Certainly it has been shown t hat both state schooling and literacy grew significantly during the 1800's. Grew and Harrigan go somewhat further, concluding that since the correlation between enrollment and later litera cy is larger than the correlation between literacy and later enrollment, state schooling must have been responsible for some of the growth


20 of 28in literacy (1991, p. 72). Even this cautious concl usion is subject to question, however. While Grew and Harrigan based their conclusion on the lit eracy figure for a single year, a study conducted by Furet and Ozouf (1982) looked at the l iteracy data at several points during the 19th century. Among their findings was that literacy was widespread in many Northern and Eastern districts in the 1700s, well before the appearance of state elementary schools. They also found that in general, areas that had high levels of stat e school enrollment already had high levels of literacy before that enrollment could have had an e ffect. Enrollment of 8 to 12 year olds in 1850, for example, was already strongly correlated with a dult literacy in 1854. In other words, high levels of literacy and state school enrollment tend ed to be contemporaneous. Furet and Ozouf concluded that the relationship between literacy an d schooling was to a great extent circular; literate parents were more likely to seek education for their children, and educated children were more likely to become literate. The entire process stemmed from a growing demand on the part of the public for literacy, spawned by the spread o f written material and the increasing economic value of reading and writing. They wrote that: In the long term, [schooling] is nothing but a prod uct of the demand for education. Of course, a school founded purely out of individua l generosity or at a bishop's initiative may produce a temporary improvement in e ducation in a parish; but its chances of enduring and of generating far-reaching changes in cultural patterns are slim, unless it is not only accepted but actively w anted by the inhabitants. (p. 66) The truth of this assessment is attested to by the success of the independent monitorial schools, which not only flourished in response to p opular demand, but led existing institutions to emulate their innovations. In many cases, these inn ovations were subsequently discarded by the state schools. The practice of grouping students by ability, for instance, though supported by modern research (Kulik, 1992), is rarely seen in sc hools to this day. The battles over control of French schooling did h ave a significant impact on social stability, however. In the very area in which many educators tout the superiority government schooling over competitive market provision-fosteri ng understanding and social harmony-the outcome appears to have been quite the opposite. Wh ether by republican parliamentarians or Catholic monarchists, the state schools were used a s a weapon with which to bludgeon their opponents. In their time in office, the revolutiona ries cut the clergy's ties to education in order to weaken their influence on the people. As the Church rose once again to power, Catholic teachings were legally forced on the state schools and private secular institutions came under heated attack. In contrast to this state compulsion the independent monitorial schools placed no religious restrictions on their pupils or teachers. They were also the first to integrate children of upper and lower classes, but far from being support ed in this by the educational bureaucracies of clergy and government, they were fiercely opposed.Conclusion Having described the history of schooling in these four different contexts, it is useful to see what commonalities present themselves. In parti cular, it is fruitful to look back at the three measures of quality listed in the introduction, nam ely: responsiveness and innovation, direct benefits, and indirect benefits. There is no question that competitive educational markets have been more responsive to the needs and demands of parents than centrally con trolled, subsidized systems. This has held true whether the monolithic systems have been run a nd paid for by governments, as was most commonly the case, or by religious societies. In At hens, changing public demand resulted in changes to the elementary curriculum, and even led to the creation of secondary education.


21 of 28Spartan schooling, both due to implicit features of its organization and to the explicit wishes of its rulers, kept all innovation and progress at bay for hundreds of years. In prereformation Germany, it was the small private school that was f irst to offer instruction in the vernacular, both to adults and children. The state-run schools foste red by Luther and Melanchthon often ignored the wishes of the public, insisting on a classical course of studies useless to the common man. The same was true of England's endowed grammar scho ols. English Dame schools, by contrast, taught only what parents were willing to pay for, e ven attracting families away from the subsidized schools run by religious societies. For centuries, the most sophisticated and modern instruction in England was to be had at private sec ondary schools, which introduced the sciences, practical engineering and surveying techniques, nav al skills, and living foreign languages. Before they were squeezed out of existence by tax-subsidiz ed public schooling, there was simply nothing that could compare to them. In France, moni torial schools led the way in pedagogical innovation and in meeting public demands--so much s o that other schools were forced to adopt their methods in order to avoid losing pupils. In looking at the direct benefits bestowed on stud ents by different approaches to educational organization, the clearest distinction to be found is between the practical and the pointless. Privately financed and operated schools have tended to offer programs of practical benefit to their clients, while centralized systems have taught only those subjects chosen by their founders or administrators--in most cases subjects of little value to the average member of the public. While private schools have consistently tau ght literacy in the vernacular of their clients for thousands of years, this has only rarely been t he case in state or charity-run schools. When it was finally taught by the religious societies in En gland, they often deliberately omitted teaching writing. Similarly, practical training in mathemati cs and science has been ignored by bureaucratic school systems until quite recently, while their hi story dates back to the 5th century B.C. in private schools. Perhaps the most glaring contradiction between the beliefs of modern public school advocates and the historical evidence is in the are a of indirect or social benefits (also called positive externalities). Defenders of public school ing argue that only it can preserve social harmony and a sound economy, while a competitive ed ucational market would lead to social strife and presumably economic deterioration. Nothi ng could be further from the truth. Government-run schools have in fact been far more c oercive, and far more likely to lead to social discord than their private counterparts. Tying them selves to a single religion or ideology, public schools have often alienated all those who did not share the chosen views. When French monitorial schools encouraged the intermingling of children of different social classes, and respecting intellectual merit no matter what its so urce, they were actually criticized for it by the ruling powers of public schooling. When English law forbade non-conformists to teach, they taught nonetheless, privately and illegally, and ge nerally admitted students irrespective of their religion. Because private schools allowed families the option of pursuing the particular kind of education they value, conflicts were avoided. Whenever the state chooses one world view over all others, it places its own people into conflict with one another. This has been happening for centuries, and it continues to happen today. As for indirect economic benefits, there is simply no question. By offering more practical preparation than their government-run counterparts, private schools have contributed far more, per capita, to bolstering their national economies. One area in which both private and public schools have performed poorly throughout history, at least by modern standards, is the provi sion of education for the poor. While it is possible to trace an historical desire among wealth y individuals to contribute to the education of the poor, this desire has rarely been effectively t ranslated into action. Government-subsidized schools, as well as private religious charities, pr ovided easier access to educational services than unsubsidized private institutions, but these servic es were not generally based on the needs and


22 of 28demands of the families they served. This is eviden t from situations such as the one in Manchester where free and subsidized schools held o nly a small share of the market, and, despite having empty places available, still lost potential customers to their unsubsidized competition. To a certain extent, poor parents have thus had to choose between the private schools that met their needs and the subsidized schools they could m ore readily afford, with little intersection between the two. The import of the historical evidence for modern s chooling is clear. Competition and the profit motive must be reintroduced into education s o that teachers and school administrators will once again have a powerful incentive to meet the ne eds of the children and parents they serve. It can also be expected that the elimination of existi ng educational monopolies will alleviate many of the ongoing battles over curriculum and religion in the schools, by allowing families to pursue an education in accordance with their own values, w ithout the need to impose those values on others. What remains to be resolved is the question of how to integrate the reintroduction of market forces with the subsidization of families wi th limited financial means. Vouchers and tax-credits no doubt offer a viable approach to the problem, though the need for more work in the design and application of these plans is paramount.ReferencesAddonizio, M. (1994) School Choice: Economic and Fi scal Perspectives. Policy Report PR-B12 (Indiana Education Policy Center, Unpublished: ERIC Document # 371 447) Archives parlementaires (1879) Archives parlementai re de 1787 a 1860, ser. 2, v. 83 (Paris, Librairie administrative de Paul Dupont)Arnold, M. (1972) Report of the Committee of Counci l on Education, 1867-8, in: Goldstrom, J. M. (Ed.) Education: Elementary Education 1780-1900 (New York, Barnes & Noble) Barnard, H. C. (1969) Education and the French Revo lution (Cambridge, The University Press) Bell, D. (1987) The Case for a Separate Black Schoo l System, Urban League Review, v 11, n 1-2, pp. 136-145Blum, V. C. (1985) Private Elementary Education in the Inner City, Phi Delta Kappan, v 66, n 9, p. 645Boaz, D. (1991) The Public School Monopoly: America 's Berlin Wall, in: Boaz, D. (Ed.) Liberating Schools (Washington, D.C.; The Cato Inst itute) Borland, M.V. & Howsen, R.M. (1993) On the Determin ation of the Critical Level of Market Concentration in Education, Economics of Education Review, v 12, n 2, pp. 165-169 Brown, F. (1992) The Dutch Experience with School C hoice: Implications for American Education, in: Cookson, P. W. (Ed.) The Choice Cont roversy (Newbury Park, Corwin Press) Cameron, R. (1993) A concise economic history of th e world: from Paleolithic times to the present (New York, Oxford University Press)Carlisle, N. (1818) A Concise Description of the En dowed Grammar Schools in England and Wales (London; Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy)Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching (1992) School Choice (Princeton,


23 of 28Carnegie Foundation)Chandler, T.A. (1986) Research Points the Way to Co stEffective Instruction, American School Board Journal, v 173, n 12, p. 48Chartier, R.; Julia, D.; Compere, M. (1976) L'Educa tion en France du XVIe au XVIIIe Siecle (Paris, Societe D'Edition D'Enseignment Superieur)Chavis, B. (1994) A Native American Perspective on Choice, in: Billingsley, K. L. Voices on Choice (San Francisco, Pacific Research Institute f or Public Policy) Chevallier, P.; Grosperrin, B.; et Maillet J. (1969 ) L'Enseignment Francais de la Revolution a nos jours (Paris, Editions Mouton)Childs, S. & Shakeshaft, C. (1986) A Meta-Analysis of Research on the Relationship Between Educational Expenditures and Student Achievement, J ournal of Education Finance, v 12, n 3, pp. 249-63Cole, L. (1960) A History of Education: Socrates to Montessori (New York; Holt, Rinehart and Winston)Coleman, J. (1990) Equality and Achievement in Educ ation (Boulder, Westview Press) Cookson, P. W. (1994) School Choice: The Struggle f or the Soul of American Education (New Haven, Yale University Press)Coons, J. E. (1991) Perestroika and the Private Pro vider, in: Boaz, D. (Ed.) Liberating Schools (Washington, D.C.; The Cato Institute)Durant, W. (1939) The Life of Greece (New York, Sim on & Schuster) Durant, W. (1957) The Reformation (New York, Simon & Schuster) Elmore, R. (1990) Choice as an Instrument of Public Policy, in: Clune, W. H. and Witte, J. F. (Eds.) Choice and Control in American Education (Lo ndon, Falmer Press) Fossey, R. (1994) Open Enrollment in Massachusetts: Why Families Choose, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, v 16, n 3, pp. 320334 Freeman, K. (1904) Schools of Hellas (New York, Tea chers College Press) Furet, F. & Ozouf, J. (1982) Reading and Writing: L iteracy in France from Calvin to Jules Ferry (Cambridge, The University Press)Gontard, M. (1959) L'enseignment Primaire en France 17891833 (Paris, Belles Lettres) Grew, R. & Harrigan, P. (1991) School, State, and S ociety: The Growth of Elementary Schooling in Nineteenth-Century France-A Quantitative Analysi s (University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor)Hamilton, E. (1957) The Echo of Greece (W. W. Norto n & Company, New York) Hanushek, E. A. (1986) The Economics of Schooling: Production and Efficiency in Public


24 of 28Schools, Journal of Economic Literature, v 24, pp. 1141-1177 Hanushek, E. A. (1989) The Impact of Differential E xpenditures on School Performance, Educational Researcher, May, 1989, pp. 45-51Harris, W. V. (1989) Ancient Literacy (Harvard Univ ersity Press, Cambridge) Hoffer, T.; Greeley, A. M.; & Coleman, J. S. (1990) Achievement Growth in Public and Catholic Schools, in: Coleman, J. S. Equality and Achievemen t in Education (Boulder, Westview Press) Isocrates (1982) Panathenaicus, in: Isocrates in Th ree Volumes with an English Translation by George Norlin (London, Wiliam Heinemann)Kozol, J. (1992) Flaming Folly, The Executive Educa tor, v 14, n 6, pp. 14-19 Krashinsky, M. (1986) Why Educational Vouchers May Be Bad Economics, Teachers College Record, v 88, n 2, pp. 140-151Kulik, J. (1992) An Analysis of the Research on Abi lity Grouping: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives. Storrs, CT: National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, The University of Conneticut.Lawson, J. & Silver, H. (1973) A Social History of Education in England (London, Butler & Tanner Ltd.)Levin, H.M.; Glass, G.V.; & Meister, G.R. (1987) Co stEffectiveness of Computer-Assisted Instruction. Evaluation Review, v 11, pp. 50-72Levin, H. M. (1991) The Economics of Educational Ch oice, Economics of Education Review, v 10, n 2, pp. 137-158Lieberman, M. (1989) Privatization and Educational Choice (New York, St. Martin's Press) Lieberman, M. (1991) Profit-Seeking Schools, in: Bo az, D. (Ed.) Liberating Schools (Washington, D.C.; Cato Institute)Marrou, H. I. (1965) Histoire de l'education dans l 'antiquite (Paris, editions du seuil) Martinez, V.; Thomas, K.; & Kemerer F. R. (1994) Wh o Chooses and Why: A Look at Five School Choice Plans, Phi Delta Kappan, v 75, n9, pp 678-81 Murnane, R. J. (1983) The Uncertain Consequences of Tuition Tax Credits: An Analysis of Student Achievement and Economic Incentives, in: Ja mes, T. and Levin, H. M. (Eds.) Public Dollars for Private Schools (Philadelphia, Temple U niversity Press) National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church (1972) First Report, 1812, in: Goldstrom, J. M. (Ed.) Education: Elementary Education 1780-1900 (New York, Barnes & Noble)Organization for Economic Cooperation and Developme nt (1994) School: A Matter of Choice (Paris, OECD)Pande, R. (1977) A Study of Factors Affecting Paren tal Selection of A Primary School for Their


25 of 28Children in Tansen Town (Lalitpur, Amita Panday)Payne, R. (1993) Poverty Limits School Choice in Ur ban Settings, Urban Education, v 28, n 3, pp. 281-299Plato (1937) Protagoras, in: The Dialogues of Plato Translated Into English by B. Jowett (New York, Random House)Pliny The Younger (1969) Letters, Book IV, XIII, in : Letters and Panegyricus [by] Pliny (London, Wiliam Heinemann)Plutarch (1988) Lycurgus, in: Plutarch on Sparta, T ranslated by J. A. Talbert (London, Penguin) Ponteil, F. (1966) Histoire de L'Enseignment en Fra nce Les Grandes Etapes, 1789-1964 (Paris, Sirey)Rhinehart, J. R. & Lee, J. F. Jr. (1991) American E ducation and the Dynamics of Choice (New York, Praeger)Roach, J. (1986) A History of Secondary Education i n England, 1800-1870 (New York, Longman)Royle, E. (1990) Modern Britain, a Social History 1 750-1985 (Kent, Edward Arnold) Schmidt, P. (1995) Looking the Other Way, Education Week, v 14, n 21, pp. 23-27 Schwickerath, R.(1904) Jesuit Education (St. Louis, B. Herder) Sextus Empiricus (1987) Against the Professors, Boo k II, in: Sextus Empiricus with an English Translation by the Rev. R. G. Bury (London, Wiliam Heinemann) Shanker, A. & Rosenberg, B. (1992) Politics, Market s and American Schools: A Rejoinder, in: Kane, P. R. (Ed.) Independent Schools, Independent Thinkers (San Francisco, Jossey-Bass) Smith, A. (1994) The Wealth of Nations (New York, T he Modern Library) Smith, F. (1931) A History of English Elementary Ed ucation 1760-1902 (London, University of London Press)Smith, K. B. & Meier, K. J. (1995) The Case Against School Choice: Politics, Markets, and Fools (Armonk, M. E. Sharpe)Sowell, T. (1993) Inside American Education (New Yo rk, The Free Press) Suetonius (1992) Suetonius, With an English Transla tion by J. C. Rolfe (London, Harvard University Press)Traill, H. D. & Mann, J. S. (Eds.) (1909) Social En gland (London, Cassell & Co.) U.S. Department of Education (1993) Digest of Educa tion Statistics 1993 (Washington D.C., U. S. Government Printing Office)U.S. Department of Education (1995) Use of School C hoice, Education Policy Issues: Statistical


26 of 28 Perspectives, May 1995 (Washington D.C., U.S. Gover nment Printing Office) Vincent, D. (1989) Literacy and popular culture: En gland 1750-1914 (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press)Wells, A. S. & Crain, R. L. (1992) Do Parents Choos e School Quality or School Status? A Sociological Theory of Free Market Education, in: C ookson, P. W. (Ed.) The Choice Controversy (Newbury Park, Corwin Press)West, E. G. (1994) Education and the State: a Study in Political Economy (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund)Williams, P. (1994) School Choice Promotes Excellen ce in the African American Community, in: Billingsley, K. L. Voices on Choice (San Franci sco, Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy)Winston, C. (1993) Economic Deregulation: Days of R eckoning for Microeconomists, Journal of Economic Literature, v 31, p. 1263-1289.Xenophon (1988) Spartan Society, in: Plutarch, Plut arch on Sparta, Translated by J. A. Talbert (London, Penguin Books)About the Author Andrew J. Coulson Andrew J. Coulson is an independent scholar based i n Seattle, WA. Determining how schools can best be structured in order to serve th e needs of families and communities has been the focus of his work over the past three years. He has written articles on the organization, condition, and history of education. His most recen t publication, "Schooling and Literacy Over Time: The Rising Cost of Stagnation and Decline," a ppeared in vol. 30, no. 3 (October 1996) of the journal Research in the Teaching of English At present, he is completing a manuscript for the g eneral public on the organization of schooling, tentatively titled On the Way to School This book will address the educational problems currently confronting parents by clearly e xplaining what people want from their schools and how they can get it. It will do this by compari ng school systems throughout history and showing which have worked, which have not, and why. Prior to entering the field of education several ye ars ago, Andrew Coulson was a systems software engineer with Microsoft corp. So, while Bi ll Gates quit school to form Microsoft, Andrew Coulson quit Microsoft to reform schools. He received his B. Sc. Degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from McGill University in Mont real, Canada (Andrew, that is, not Bill).Copyright 1996 by the Education Policy Analysis Archives and Andrew J. CoulsonEPAA can be accessed either by visiting one of its seve ral archived forms or by subscribing to the LISTSERV known as EPAA at (To sub scribe, send an email letter to whose sole contents are SUB EPAA y our-name.) As articles are published by the Archives they are sent immediately to the EPAA subscribers and simultaneously archived in three forms.


27 of 28Articles are archived on EPAA as individual files under the name of the author a nd the Volume and article number. For example, the article by Stephen Kemmis in Volume 1, Number 1 of the Archives can be retrieved by sending an e-mail letter to LISTSERV@a and making the single line in the letter rea d GET KEMMIS V1N1 F=MAIL. For a table of contents of the entire ARCHIVES, send the following e-mail message to INDEX EPAA F=MAIL, tha t is, send an e-mail letter and make its single line read INDEX EPAA F=MAIL.The World Wide Web address for the Education Policy Analysis Archives is Policy Analysis Archives are "gophered" at To receive a publication guide for submitting artic les, see the EPAA World Wide Web site or send an e-mail letter to and include the single l ine GET EPAA PUBGUIDE F=MAIL. It will be sent to you by return e-mail. General questions about ap propriateness of topics or particular articles may be addressed to the Editor, Gene V Glass, Glass@asu.ed u or reach him at College of Education, Arizona Sta te University, Tempe, AZ 85287-2411. (602-965-2692)Editorial Board Greg John Andrew Coulson Alan Davis Sherman Dorn Mark E. Thomas F. Alison I. Arlen Gullickson Ernest R. Aimee Craig B. Howley u56e3@wvnvm.bitnet William Richard M. Jaeger Benjamin Thomas Dewayne Mary P. Les Susan Bobbitt Anne L. Hugh G. Richard C. Anthony G. Rud Dennis Jay


28 of 28Robert Robert T.


1 of 3 Contributed Commentary on Volume 4 Number 9: Coulson Markets Versus Monopolies in Education: The Histori cal Evidence 17 July 1996 William J. Markets Versus Monopolies in Education: The Histori cal Evidence is a well written and clearly argued polemic. In it, Andrew Coulson puts together a rather lengthy chain of stories about the place of "market forces" in the delivery of education al services from the time of the Greeks forward. It is understandable that his obser vations are limited to social and political systems that were large and well organized since hi s aim is to discuss education in the context of schools. A quite different p icture would appear if one considered "education" in less complex and technological societies, but such education dif fers in its aims as well as in its substance from the kinds of academic program that is of interest t o Coulson in this work. The paper is presented as a history and it may seem unfortunate that it re lies so frequently on secondary sources; however, Coulson's aim seems not to be to shed new light on history but to draw implications from known history so the secondary sources do not present a serious problem. The history presented is stimulating reading, but t he author's conclusions are perhaps too amply foreshadowed by the evaluative language used throug hout. An early example occurs in Coulson's description of "the case against" parental choice a nd inter-school competition: "A significant number of parents, it is assumed, would either fail to inform themselves about competing schools, or would base their choices on the 'wrong' criteria'." The author's preferences are revealed in this statement in several ways. First o f all, most writers would be inclined to describe the case in favor of an innovation first so that th e arguments against might be understood in context. Coulson prefers to write first about the c ase against so that the "the case in favor" may serve as rebuttal and, I would presume, to gain the benefits of the recency effect in the reader's memory. Second, the use of scare quotes around "wro ng" seems to imply that the criteria that would be chosen ar e indeed NOT wrong. Finally, the choice of "it is assumed" as o pposed to "it is claimed" or "it is argued" presents this proposi tion as an ideological presumption rather than as an empirically testable claim.It seems to me too that there is something crafty i n Coulson's use of references to minority groups advocates for an educational free market as the ope ning paragraph of the case in favor. Even reading from outside the United States, I recognize Ben Chav is as a very conservative writer whose own Horatio Alger life experience leaves him inclined to expect that individual hard work and determination invariably result in just rewards While I do not know the other parties Coulson cites, this one is enough to suggest that h e has been exceedingly selective in his choice of representatives for a minority point of view.


2 of 3The effects of such a presentation can be powerfull y persuasive and I expect that this article will prove persuasive to many readers. As I said earlier it is a well written and clearly argued polemic, but readers should bear in mind that from the outset, the author is taking a stand and seeking to persuade. This is not simply "the histor ical evidence" as the title claims. It is some of the historical evidence presented in the context of the author's unshakable faith in free market forces as a basis for educational reform. As such i t is both a good read and a good exercise for a critical intellect, but the reader should really be alerted to the author's intentions at the beginnin g rather having his conclusions appear as if they aro se from the data presented. The conclusions are, I think, far too strong for the data. I apprec iate the paragraph dealing with the inadequacies of market systems in providing for the education of th e poor, Coulson could go a lot further in making clear exactly who was educated in each of the historical systems he presented. Not only was much of the education he discusses limited to m ales, it was also often limited to "citizens" which frequently meant landowners. Great masses of children would not likely have been covered by any of the education the author speaks o f but would have been left to fend for themselves without benefit of education. Moreover, the author's recognition of this problem does not prevent him or her from asserting that "Competi tion and the profit motive must be reintroduced into education so that teachers and sc hool administrators will once again have a powerful incentive to meet the needs of the childre n and parents they serve." The conclusion assumes that schools do not now address the needs o f children and parents, a proposition about which a charitable assessment (from any political view) might be that the evidence is mixed. I will not attempt to treat each of the historical periods that Coulson discusses, but I would like to illustrate how the facts of his presentation might lend themselves to alternate interpretations. Take, for example, Coulson's passing comment: "...P lato's Academy and Aristotle's Lyceum, neither of which charged a fee due to the wealth an d preferences of their founders..." While it introduces a section on for-profit schooling in Ath ens, it also makes a point about the role of generous benefactors in providing schooling. Such c laims are often part of the rationale of contemporary private schools that seek scholarships to support the tuition of able but needy students. This happens, of course, and students no doubt benefit. But the generosity of Plato or Aristotle might also be seen as a precedent for the generosity of today's elite. Suppose, for example, that in a school system given over to the free market, Ross Perot or Ted Turner were to offer free schooling to some large number of studen ts. Would we be prepared to have those schools become vehicles for the promulgation of a p articular set of political principles? On the other hand, the American Communist Party in the 193 0's was very generous in support of a variety of charities--suppose communist interests, domestic or foreign, wanted to establish private schools with little or no tuition. Would we be prepared to impose severe regulations on the ownership and operation of private schools to i nsure that they did not serve narrow political interests or would we be prepared to take it as an article of faith that market competition would address such problems?An alternate interpretation might also be given to Luther's concern that "if we leave it (education) to the parents, we will die a hundred times over be fore the thing would be done." Coulson clearly sees this as simply wrong-headed thinking--it is an article of faith for him that parents will in fact make good choices for their children. But if we all ow that Luther may have known something of the people he was talking about, it is not unreason able to consider that the child's labor for the famil y farm or business might have been far to val uable to sacrifice for an education. The "good choice" for most peasant families might well have b een to choose food over literacy. Given the availability of low-paying jobs in the service indu stry today, families could just as readily decide that a sixteen year old's income is a better bargai n than paying for schooling. Are we prepared to


3 of 3either decrease the school leaving age or to accept higher dropout rates? My point is only this: however clear the facts of history may seem to be, its lessons are invariably ambiguous. Finally, while there is certainly ample food for th ought in the historical antecedents, Coulson would do well to inform readers about the differenc es between contemporary democracies and the states that supported the public education syst ems described in this piece. We ought not minimize the differences in social ecology that mak e simple generalizations from the past inappropriate.This article is informative and provocative. I woul d not want readers to be left with only Coulson's interpretation of the "the historical evi dence," but I think both his perspective and his arguments merit consideration.


1 of 2 Contributed Commentary on Volume 4 Number 9: Coulson Markets Versus Monopolies in Education: The Histori cal Evidence 8 July 1996 David O' Hopefully it's not to late to respond to Coulson's 'Markets Versus Monopolies in Education'. 1. It's an interesting and clearly written paper. 2. He has chosen interesting examples, though I que stion the relevance of examples from Sparta and Athens. 3. My main point: It is possible (and I think wise) to read his paper as an argument for 'decentralization' rather than 'privitization'. Dec entralization is, after all, one of the many forms of privitization (see Bray, Mark (various recent years )). Decentralization is not a market response, rather it is about delegating authority to the loca l level. It is possible to decentralize curriculum decisions (thereby presumably making the curriculum more relevant) without privitizing the finance of education. This may be the best solution In fact, there is generally more local control of education in the US than elsewhere in the world. For example, there is no national curriculum and local school boards have genuine power to effec t change. The concern I have about market solutions to educa tion is of the danger that ability to pay will determine the quality of education one receive s. Of course, already in the US, income clearly determines educational choice at all levels (see 'S avage Inequalities'). Further, I worry about the hidden agenda of market solutions which I believe i s to break teacher unions. Have we collectively forgotten why teacher unions (and unio ns generally) arose? Does anyone believe that the world has changed since then in such a way as t o obviate the need for organized labor in response to organized capital? Rather, it seems that as capital has become more o rganized (resulting, inter alia, in GATT, the EC, and NAFTA), labor has become less so (see F reeman, Richard). We seem to have arrived at a very unhealthy level of political inequality b etween capital and labor. Not surprisingly, this seems to have resulted in the majority of people wo rking more with less security and for a declining share of total income, with consequent so cietal effects. Broadly, it seems to me that the 'market solution/ privitization' agenda that has dominated the US since, say, 1980 has had numerous, rather ug ly side effects. Among these are: 1. The dramatic rise in income inequality to histo rically record levels. 2. The stagnation of average wages. 3. The marked real decline in the minimum wage and social welfare benefits.


2 of 2 4. The rise in violent and drug-related crime, in response to which the US has imprisoned a higher proportion of its population than any othe r country in the world. These seem obviously related to each other and to have obviously resulted from privatization and market solutions. Certainly, they have coincided with the rise of the privitization/market solutions agenda. Are Americans satisfied with these results? Has th e American society become a 'better society' (however that is defined)? It seems to me that as the increasingly privitized American society has become qualitatively worse (in my view) so too will increasingly privitized education become worse. This is not to say that greater decen tralization of educational decision making is anything but good.


1 of 2 Contributed Commentary on Volume 4 Number 9: Coulson Markets Versus Monopolies in Education: The Histori cal Evidence Editor's note: The following commentary is an excer pt from the EDPOLICY Listserv. It is a general comment about vouchers and is not directl y connected to Andrew Coulson's EPAA article.30 May 1996Sherman Dorndornsj@CTRVAX.VANDERBILT.EDU Proponents of vouchers frequently point to higher education as a model of how vouchers might work on the K-12 level and, more importantly, cite it as evidence that vouchers need not degrade the quality of education. On the contrary, they would legitimately point out, the GI Bill allowed American universities (or multiversities, a s Clark Kerr declared) to expand and become a leader in higher education throughout the world. In other words, voucher proponents invite us to consider a gedanken (or thought) experiment: what would K-12 look like if it were like American higher education? I'm going to skip here the responses one might mak e about whether we like the shape of American higher education, what happened when feder al loan and grant money started going to beauty schools and other proprietary institutions, and so forth. Let's grant for the moment that the shape of higher education is a reasonable best-case scenario, and that it probably would not be worse to end up with something like that compared w ith the current configuration of K-12. Instead, I have a different question: can we identi fy today what would be a worst-case scenario for vouchers, what Herb Gintis called "fatal compro mises" that would make K-12 much worse than the admittedly flawed status quo? I assert that day care as currently exists in the United States is a very good example of what the worst-case scenario might be for K-12 educ ation if privatized. Currently, most states have some subsidies available for day care for poor families. These subsidies cover only a fraction of children across the state who need chil d care, and they cover only a fraction of the cost of good child care. A number of corporations h ave sprouted across the country providing child care either as franchises appealing to parent s (e.g., KinderCare) or as subcontractees of corporations (e.g., Corporate Child Care). Standard s for child care are spotty across the country. When the Tennessee commission on child care standar ds recently suggested mild revisions to existing standards, it got bottled up because it wo uld have made the governor's welfare proposal much more expensive. (It would have required such u nreasonable things as having someone on site with CPR/rescue training, a 6:1 toddler:teache r ratio, and the elimination of a vast loophole which allowed child care centers essentially to ign ore the ratio standards which currently exist.) (I should also mention that there are no standards in Tennessee for child care provided in private homes.)


2 of 2 In other words, child care is a pretty lousy priva ted system with poor public subsidies and weak standards. This despite the growth of professi onal organizations such as NAEYC. I would argue that, if K-12 is privatized, it might turn in to the equivalent of child care. Not necessarily, but it's a possibility. Moreover, child care conditions in most states dem onstrate the avowed hypocrisy of politicians who support vouchers. Many of those sup porting vouchers are the same ones who refuse to support more subsidies for child care. NO ONE is arguing, to my knowledge, that child care is satisfactory or that child care centers was te money. (Putting about 80% or so into salaries for teachers, they're probably among the most effic ient places around.) Politicians just don't want to spend money on child care, and the thousands of parents who need it haven't changed the behavior of state legislatures. I suspect that, if K-12 is privatized, the same instincts will govern political behavior. Political rhetoric will put mor e downward pressure on school funding, more pressure than currently exists, and there will not be the countervailing influence of funding structures that we now have. To any politicians sup porting vouchers, I'd say, "Put your money where your mouth is. Support increased subsidies an d standards for child care in your state, and I'll believe that you're serious about having a goo d privatized system. Because we should make the privatized system we have good before we think about privatizing K-12."


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