NPRI Radio Commentaries

One-Room Schoolhouses Rock

he Associated Press recently reported that one-room schoolhouses are making a return. A new study conducted by Winthrop University's Mark Dewalt showed one-room schoolhouses are on the rise. Professor Dewalt rightfully asked the question, "Have we consolidated to the point where the student represents not a person but a number?" Apparently, the answer is yes—one-room schools have grown from 1,303 10 years ago to 1,636 today. Parents believe their children receive individual attention and basic values that mega-schools with hundreds or thousands of students simply don't offer. What's even more encouraging, a majority of the nation's one-room schoolhouses are privately run, free from the bureaucracy and regulations most public schools are strangled by.

Here's more good news: one-room schoolhouses are not all that uncommon in Nevada. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, there's one a mere 45 minutes southwest of Las Vegas. Twelve other one-roomers are spread throughout the Silver State, in places such as Duckwater, Jiggs, Currie and Baker. In the technological era, the assumption has been that bigger is better. Big government, big business, big education. That notion is starting to fracture—we see evidence of this from home-based businesses, privatization efforts and the desire of coerced union members to set the terms of their own employment. The comeback of one-room schoolhouses is another positive indicator. When teacher unions that control education policy in this country come out against one-room schoolhouses, we'll know for sure they're a good thing.

Oregon Opts Out

evada's neighbor Oregon just made a gutsy move—the kind our state seems woefully unwilling to make. In May, Oregon's Legislature said, essentially, that Social Security is a sham. The Legislature became the first in the nation to ask Congress to allow it to experiment with other forms of Social Security. Both the Oregon Assembly and Senate passed a resolution asking that the federal government adopt a waiver system which would permit states to both design and implement alternative retirement plans.

The resolution was first proposed by the Portland-based Cascade Policy Institute which, like NPRI, is a free-market public policy organization. In June of 1996, Cascade sponsored a speech by Chilean official Jose Pinera. He played a role in privatizing Chile's social security system in 1981, and is now working with advocates of a market-based system in the U.S.

The idea of a private system happily took hold in Oregon, and the resolution requesting a waiver was adopted May 5th. It got some fairly significant media coverage as well, with mentions on network news programs and major newspapers. The language of the resolution is fairly simple: it highlights the flaws in the current Social Security system, such as its imminent bankruptcy and failure to recognize that individual retirement needs are different. It also makes the point that the private sector is a better way to go for economic reasons as well—the return will simply be better. Might Oregon's request be the first significant chink in the armor of the immoral—and unworkable—Ponzi scheme that is Social Security? Let's hope so. u


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