Stephen Twigg, the U.K. shadow education secretary, announced last week that a Labour government would extend to all state schools the liberties now enjoyed only by free schools and academies—state-funded schools that are independent of local council control and free to decide their own curriculums and teachers' pay (among other things). According to Mr. Twigg, "freedom to innovate in the curriculum has given teachers [at academies] a new sense of confidence and professionalism."
That's nice for the teachers. But should parents be equally pleased?
Consumers usually benefit when suppliers are allowed to innovate. If the creative energy of those who work in dairy farming, computing, fashion or any other industry were replaced with diktats from government ministers, we would soon find ourselves consuming goods and services of the standard suffered in the Soviet Union.
But the endless improvement that we have come to take for granted requires not only free suppliers. It requires free consumers too.
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