Thursday, December 16, 2004

Consolidation and Centralization

In a better world, just $1 would be delivered to me each time some serious person advocated that "regional government", "a metropolitan approach" or some similar form of local government consolidation is needed. The Brookings website alone would make me rich.

Just surfing the U.S. Statistical Abstracts, which are now available through for many years back, reveals the dimensions of the most auspicious government consolidation project in U.S. history: the consolidation of school districts. Sixty years ago, when there were about half as many school-age children, there were over 100,000 local school districts. There are now roughly 13,500. Anyone reading the newspapers knows how the comparative performance of U.S. students continues to slip badly.

Did consolidation cause the problems? No one knows. It surely did not prevent them.