Read about Education and Capitalism, Heartland’s newest book!

Published January 14, 2004

Current Affairs, Education, Economics
The Hoover Press
November 2003
416 pages, paperback
ISBM 0-8179-3972-5
$15.00 – click here to order

Advance Praise for Education & Capitalism
“Walberg and Bast have written a scholarly, readable and timely book that cogently explains how market competition can promote school improvement. I recommend it as a college-level text in economics, education or public policy, and to anyone who cares about the education of our children.”
Joseph P. Viteritti, New York University
“A first rate book on improving America’s schools that challenges the popular fallacies, misunderstand-ings, and romantic notions that many have about capitalism and economics and that makes the case for market-based school reforms.”
Bruno V. Manno, Annie E. Casey Foundation
“I highly recommend this book to my colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives, and to parents and taxpayers everywhere who seek better educational opportunities for every child. Bast and Walberg have performed a tremendous service for the cause of school reform by putting in place a complete and objective defense of capitalism, the need for better schools, and the way to get there.”
Hon. Philip Crane, Member of Congress

STANFORD, CA: Capitalism once did a superior job providing kindergarten- to-twelfth grade (K-12) schooling in the United States, according to Herbert J. Walberg and Joseph L. Bast, who say it would do so once again if the public could overcome its fear of markets and economics.

While the legal, sociological, and political cases for school choice have been made repeatedly, the economic case has become the weak sister of the movement, say Walberg and Bast, perhaps because a conversation with an average person about economics reveals many myths and misunderstandings. Many citizens misunderstand capitalism and cling to old myths about it.

Competition among schools and reliance on private rather than public financing were the rule in the United States until the mid-1800s. Literacy rates during that time were as high as, or higher than, literacy rates today, suggesting that capitalism did a superior job educating the nation’s populace. How to use competition and private financing to improve schools in the twenty-first century is the focus of Walberg and Bast’s new volume, Education and Capitalism, released by Hoover Institution Press.

Many people believe capitalism encourages greed and exacerbates inequality, tends toward monopoly and low-quality products, and allows corporations to manipulate consumers and waste money on advertising. The failure of economists to debunk these myths about capitalism poses a huge challenge for market-based school reform.

In this book, the authors contend that the U.S. public will not embrace market-based reforms beyond pilot programs for the inner-city poor or charter schools until they understand what markets are and trust them to provide quality education for their children, just as markets provide superior goods and services in nearly all parts of modern economies. The authors make the convincing case that markets can indeed be trusted to provide high-quality, universal schooling.


  • Part 1 of Education and Capitalism summarizes the most recent data on student achievement and school productivity, documenting the need for fundamental reform of the nation’s schools and describing the main reasons why schools and past efforts at school reform have failed.



  • Part 2 explains why capitalism can be trusted to produce safe and effective schools. It explains the institutions of capitalism and addresses the misconceptions about how it operates, putting to rest nine myths about capitalism such as, for example, that businesses earn obscene profits and that businesses would exploit workers were it not for government intervention. The authors defend the morality of capitalism along with its compatibility with religious and humane beliefs.



  • Part 3 examines the relationship between education and capitalism, explains why economics is an appropriate tool for studying how schooling is delivered, and presents important economic insights about reform.



  • Part 4 describes privatization options and choices, with a special emphasis on school vouchers including specific design guidelines for effective voucher programs.


About the Authors

Herbert J. Walberg is chairman of the Board of Directors of The Heartland Institute, a distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and Emeritus Research Professor of Education and Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has edited more than 55 books and written about 350 articles on such topics as educational effectiveness and exceptional human accomplishments. He has frequently testified before U.S. Congressional committees, state legislators, and federal courts. Professor Walberg earned a Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Chicago and was Assistant Professor at Harvard University before joining the faculty at the University of Illinois – Chicago.

Joseph L. Bast is president of The Heartland Institute, a national nonprofit research organization based in Chicago, and publisher of School Reform News, a monthly publication sent to some 45,000 policymakers and educators nationwide. Mr. Bast has coauthored or edited eight books, including We Can Rescue Our Children (1988), Coming Out of the Ice: A Plan to Make the 1990s Illinois’ Decade (1990), and Rebuilding America’s Schools (1991). His writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Phi Delta Kappan, USA Today, Crain’s Chicago Business, The Cato Journal, and elsewhere.

Ordering Information

Copies of Education and Capitalism may be ordered directly from the publisher for $15 per copy. To interview the authors or to arrange for speaking engagements, please contact:

The Heartland Institute
19 South LaSalle Street #903
Chicago, IL 60603
Tel: 312/377-4000
Fax: 312/377-5000
Email: [email protected]
Order online:

The Heartland Institute is one of the country’s leading free-market think tanks. For more information, visit its Web site at or call the number listed above.