E. G. West by James Tooley
What role should government have in education? This question has exercised philosophers since Plato and economists since Adam Smith. It is also a question that is as relevant today, as people around the world worry about standards in public (government) schools and governments and international agencies look to fine-tune their educational policies. This book describes and analyses the work of one economist, Professor E.G. West, whose life's work was focused precisely on this question. His classic 1965 book, Education and the State, and subsequent writings inspired a new way of looking at this question. Based on historical analysis of what happened in the UK and USA before governments got involved in education, and supplemented with philosophical exploration of the justifications for government involvement, West set out a position with only minimal state involvement. James Tooley outlines West's ideas and their challenges, elaborating them in terms of public choice theory and recent empirical evidence of 'education without the state' in developing countries.