Michael Walzer
Professor Emeritus, The Institute for Advanced Study

Michael Walzer on Improving Education

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Michael Walzer believes public education should be dominant in America.

Michael Walzer

Michael Walzer is one of America's leading political philosophers. He is a professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey and editor of Dissent, a left-wing quarterly of politics and culture. He has written on a wide range of topics, including just and unjust wars, nationalism, ethnicity, economic justice, social criticism, radicalism, tolerance, and political obligation. He is also a contributing editor to The New Republic and a member of the editorial board of Philosophy & Public Affairs. To date he has written 27 books and has published over 300 articles, essays, and book reviews. He is a member of several philosophical organizations including the American Philosophical Society.

Walzer: I think a democracy needs a very strong system of public education. I think that the teachers in that system should be respected and one way of respecting them is to pay them decently, which we don’t now do. I think an investment in public education is very important. It’s an investment not only of money but certainly of money, also of, so to speak, public time and energy. We should be committed to the best public school system. We should be committed to experimentation in the public school system so that there should be alternative schools within the public school system, trying out different forms of different educational practices. I don't think any liberal state can ban private education. I don't think that’s the right thing to do. I think both private for profit education and private religious education is permissible, but the school should think of those private and parochial, the public, the state, should think of those private and parochial schools as competitors with its own schools and it should aim to win the competition. It should aim to make the public system the dominant system of education.