Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob


education, free trade zone, Shenzhen, Chicago, Detroit, regulations, reform

The great barrier to educational advance in our time is the federal government. The second great barrier? Your state government. The third great barrier? Your local government.

Proposals to break up government-subsidized and -enforced school monopolies have ranged from tax credit proposals and voucher programs to charter schools and (the biggest success so far) home schooling.

But it may be time to advance something a little . . . more daring. Break the stranglehold of government on dysfunctional schooling.


Apply the “free trade zone” (FTZ) idea to education.

We remember the FTZ proposal because of its rise in popularity amongst academics and policy wonks in the 1980s and 1990s. But the notion is an old one. And in China, where they are called “special economic zones” (SEZs) — and it is this term that is catching on — they have been amazingly successful, the former fishing village of Shenzhen being the most obvious example.

What about America? Take a devastated region, like inner-city Chicago or Detroit,* and simply nullify the regulations and rules. (This probably would require federal enabling legislation on top of state leadership.) With the ensuing freedom and opportunity, entrepreneurs, established businesses and schools, teachers, community groups and activists could cook up new solutions to the oldest schooling problem there is:

actual education.

I’ve heard whispers of this Educational SEZ idea for some time now.

It is time for rational and quite public discussion.

And then the shouting.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.


* Of course, any area could work. The reason to focus on demonstrably failed educational regions is that such areas have lost hope, and thus the politically resistant are likely to give in and allow it.

Printable PDF


By: CS Admin


  1. JFB says:

    A wonderful idea, a full and free market where the government schools have failed, real and open competition and perhaps the discovery of better ways and methods to educate. I would like to think there might be a possibility of this, but also understand it is most unlikely.
    SEZ would ever get past the not so enlightened self-interest groups presently “working” on the problem, by doing the same thing (with more money than ever) while claiming that is the solution, regardless of their history of decades of failure.

  2. Pat says:

    At one time public schools were an assimilation tool.   Children learned how to function in American society, but at the time it was still a ‘melting pot’.   Today it is a mosaic.   Little communities/cultures all going their separate ways.  As bad as today’s public schools may be, how will the SEZ fix what is wrong?   Don’t you still need goals for the schools to reach?   Won’t SEZ only make that worse?   How much supervision or accreditation will be exercised by the state?   I see the failure of schools as a result of political correctness and government policy.   Well-meaning public officials have placed barriers to educational achievement, all in the name of ‘fairness’.     Maybe we can start with eliminating multiculturalism from public schools,  All children, no matter what their heritage, should have the same curriculum in the primary grades, with an emphasis on reading, writing and STEM.   Next, we can end tenure for all teachers.   These are small steps but that’s how you begin a journey of a thousand miles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2020 Common Sense with Paul Jacob, All Rights Reserved. Back to top