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Education and the State

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First appeared in 1965 and was immediately hailed as one of the century's most important works on education.
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Can education be provided entirely by private markets? In some ways, it is a preposterous question, as this seminal important book shows. Private education was thriving and growing completely on its own. The advent of state education was superimposed upon the voluntary society, in both U.S. and Britain. The goal was NOT to provide better education but to change what and how people are taught.

That we even doubt the capacity of society to provide education is a testament to the success of the dubious political process. Today, people question the capacity of private markets solely because the state has been doing it (and doing it poorly) for so long.

Education and the State first appeared in 1965 and was immediately hailed as one of the century's most important works on education. In the thirty years that have followed, the questions this book raised concerning state-run education have grown immeasurably in urgency and intensity. Education and the State re-examines the role of government in education and challenges the fundamental statist assumption that the state is best able to provide an education for the general population.

West explores the views on education of the nineteenth-century British reformers and classical economists who argued for state education. He demonstrates that by the Foster Act of 1870 the state system of education was superimposed upon successful private efforts, thereby suppressing an emerging and increasingly robust structure of private, voluntary, and competitive education funded by families, churches, and philanthropies.

This new and expanded edition of Education and the State addresses the American situation in education, applying the lessons learned from the study of British institutions. It also broadens their application from education to the conduct of democracy as a political system.

In some ways, this book is absolutely mind blowing, clearing away all doubts about the role of markets in education and casting grave doubts on the role of the state. The reader is left with the undeniable reality: no reform is worth pursuing unless it cuts and eliminates the involvement of the state at any level in what should be (and was for so long) an entirely private matter.

If you care about education, this is the book you need to read and master.

Edwin G. West is Professor Emeritus of Economics at Carleton University, Ottawa.

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Table of Contents

Foreword xiii

Introduction xvii

Preface xxiii

Acknowledgements xxix

Part one

Protection of Infants Principle

Chapter 1. State Protection of Minors in Theory 3

Chapter 2. State Protection of Minors in Practice: The English Education Act of 1944 14

Part two

The Political Economists’ Argument of the ‘Neighbourhood Effects’ of Education

Chapter 3. The ‘Neighbourhood Effects’ Argument 31

Chapter 4. Education to Make Democracy Work 45

Chapter 5. Equality of Opportunity 58

Chapter 6. Education and the Quest for ‘Common Values’ 84

Chapter 7. Education and Economic Growth 107

Part three

Theoretical and Empirical Antecedents

Chapter 8. The Classical Economists on Education 137

Chapter 9. Literacy—Before and after 1870 157

Chapter 10. The Rise and Fall of Nineteenth-Century Private Schools for the Masses 170

Chapter 11. The Quality of Schooling before and after 1870 199

Chapter 12. Twentieth-Century Legislative Changes and the Struggle for Control 215

Part four

New Patterns in State Responsibility

Chapter 13. An Educational Model in Political Economy 247

Chapter 14. Are Twentieth-Century Parents Competent to Choose? 259

Chapter 15. ‘Neighbourhood Effects’ in Perspective 279

Chapter 16. Conclusion to the Second Edition 286

Part five

A Further Case Study of Public Intervention

Chapter 17. The Political Economy of American Public School Legislation 295

Select Bibliography 339

Recommended Reading 345

Other Publications by E. G. West 347

Index 353

ISBN 9780865971356
Publisher Liberty Fund
Publication Date 06/01/1994
Binding PB
Page Length 396
Dimensions 6 x 9

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