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Conservative Choice Advocate’s Grocery Store Metaphor Backfires

December 3, 2020


A recent article on the positive consequences of marketplace competition by Matthew Lau included an inept attempt to slam unions for their unquestioned support for government schools.

The standard objection to giving families more choice in education, voiced most loudly by teachers’ unions bent on maintaining as close to monopoly control as possible, is that if students leave the public school system, so too will funding, which would provoke a deterioration in the quality of public education. But that objection gets a failing grade. Do the teachers’ unions also believe that a family that switches grocery stores should be forced to keep paying the store from which it formerly bought its groceries? If not, how are schools any different? And why would it make sense to provide the same funding to public schools if they don’t have to educate as many students?

The grocery store analogy actually proves the importance of well funded and equitable schools. In case Mr. Lau hadn’t noticed how the market works, someone in a poor rural community or poor neighborhood in a city should remind him that grocery stores are not available for them the same way that they are available in the neighborhoods of affluent areas. Oh, and the last time I looked having a choice of places to shop was not defined as a public good… though if it were Walmart might be in tough shape!

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