Amity Shlaes contends that too much protectionism in the US education sector is a key driver of outsourcing. She argues that US schools are monopolies, prone to lobbying by special-interest groups, and have lost sense of their original mandate. The resulting fall in quality of output manifested by fall in the standards of school graduates has been obfuscated by dropping overall standards. Net result – a workforce underprepared for globalisation
The national panic over outsourcing is driving US lawmakers to come up with new forms of protectionism. This is a shame, both for those of us who see some value in outsourcing and for those who disapprove of it. For the protectionist, panic obscures an important American reality: that outsourcing was encouraged in the first place by too much protectionism in a specific US industry: education.
We are not speaking of America’s boarding schools or MBA programmes, whose waiting lists include hopefuls from Dusseldorf and Seoul. The problem lies with workaday publicly funded grammar and secondary schools, especially in cities. These are the factories that produce the national workforce. Yet, for the past quarter-century, they have had little competition and have enjoyed a lack of scrutiny that would make Parmalat blush…
Not that the US will necessarily fail to confront that challenge. One of the wonderful and astounding things about America is the way sheer innovative power has always made up for lack of formal learning. This can be the case again. Besides, all efforts at protectionism collapse sooner or later. Perhaps outsourcing will accelerate the collapse of school protectionism, forcing reforms that generate stronger workers. If so, the more outsourcing, the better.[Financial Times]
I agree with the view that as globalisation begins to pervade every sector of every economy, the best policy response is investing in education.