The Worm in the Apple: Publishers Weekly, Dec 23, 2002
February 03, 2003, 04:19 PM
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Republished on VDARE.COM on February 03, 2003

PETER BRIMELOW. HarperCollins, $24.95 (336p) ISBN 0-06-009661-6

 

COPYRIGHT 2002 Reed Business Information

"The problem with America's government school system is socialism. The solution is capitalism—the introduction of a free market." This provocative theme, stated explicitly by CBS Marketwatch columnist Brimelow, aptly sums up the premise of this lengthy opinion piece on what's wrong with American schooling and how to fix it. The real villains in the government educational scam, according to Brimelow, are the unions, with their bloated bureaucracies, political maneuvering and teacher protection rackets. Brimelow's prescriptions go further than suggesting we simply get rid of unions. His remedies run along predictable ideological lines: turn education over to market forces, hand over responsibility for teacher education to private firms instead of universities and abolish the U.S. Department of Education. Competition, in this paradigm, will solve all of education's problems. For politicians seeking ammunition in the war on public education, Brimelow shares plenty of anecdotes highlighting what he sees as the excesses of teacher unions. Unfortunately, his text suffers from selective use of research and unnecessary teacher bashing (e.g., he opens the book with a commentary on how extraordinarily fat teachers are) to make the point. He can also be hypocritical, as when he accuses union spokespeople of hyperbole when warning against vouchers, merit pay and other conservative proposals for school reform, yet engages in much of the same, detracting from what might otherwise be a welcome addition to the national conversation on education. (Feb. 4)