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Competition: The Engine of Success

Good ideas inevitably spread. Arabic numbers and the zero, liberty, the Gregorian calendar, democracy, free markets, Darwinian evolution, pizza, have conquered the world despite all attempts to prevent them from doing so.

And despite a bitter and well-financed campaign by teachers’ unions and the educational establishment, the techniques of charter schools are spreading to the public schools they were set up to compete with. The New York Times reports today that “In the first experiment of its kind in the country, the Houston public schools are testing whether techniques proven successful in high-performing urban charters can also help raise achievement in regular public schools.”

“We can’’t sit idly by and let parents think only the quality charter schools can educate poor kids well,” said Terry Grier, Houston’’s hard-charging superintendent. “If you see something good, why not try to replicate it?”

This, of course, was the very idea of charter schools to begin with: to provide educational alternatives outside the public school monopoly that could explore other pedagogical techniques. Those successful techniques are now spreading to the old-fashioned public schools.

Here we have a textbook example of why free markets work: they foster competition, and it is competition that fosters good ideas. The reason why government is always so stultified and inefficient is that governments are always monopolies. It is the instinct of all monopolists to strangle new ideas in their cribs–not foster them.

 



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