Markets Versus Monopolies in Education


  • Andrew J. Coulson Andrew Coulson



Centralization, Decentralization, Educational Administration, Educational Finance, Educational History, Elementary Secondary Education, Free Enterprise System, Labor Market, School Choice, School Organization


A common point of contention among educators and economists is the likely effect a free market would have on modern education. Most supporters of public schooling maintain that the field would either be adversely affected by competition and choice, or that the effects would be insubstantial. Conversely, a significant number of critics argue that education, like all other human exchanges, would respond to market incentives with improved performance, increased attention to the needs of families, and greater innovation. Historical evidence is presented indicating that teachers and schools are indeed affected by the financial incentives of the systems in which they operate. In particular, the data show that economic pressures have forced schools in competitive markets to meet the needs of families, through methodological advancements and diversity in curriculum, while centralized bureaucratic systems have generally been coercive and pedagogically stagnant.


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Author Biography

Andrew J. Coulson, Andrew Coulson

Andrew J. Coulson is an independent scholar based in Seattle, WA. Determining how schools can best be structured in order to serve the needs of families and communities has been the focus of his work over the past three years. He has written articles on the organization, condition, and history of education. His most recent publication, "Schooling and Literacy Over Time: The Rising Cost of Stagnation and Decline," appeared in vol. 30, no. 3 (October 1996) of the journal Research in the Teaching of English. At present, he is completing a manuscript for the general public on the organization of schooling, tentatively titled On the Way to School. This book will address the educational problems currently confronting parents by clearly explaining what people want from their schools and how they can get it. It will do this by comparing school systems throughout history and showing which have worked, which have not, and why. Prior to entering the field of education several years ago, Andrew Coulson was a systems software engineer with Microsoft corp. So, while Bill Gates quit school to form Microsoft, Andrew Coulson quit Microsoft to reform schools. He received his B. Sc. Degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from McGill University in Montreal, Canada (Andrew, that is, not Bill).




How to Cite

Coulson, A. J. (1996). Markets Versus Monopolies in Education. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 4, 9.