5 Educ. L. & Pol'y Rev. 1 (2019).
35 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2020
Date Written: February 19, 2020
To attend school is to sign up for a package deal. A single institution provides instruction across a range of subjects; it has particular teachers, facilities, classmates, services, and extracurricular activities. Notwithstanding limited and variable flexibility, a school’s program, overall, is a take-it-or-leave-it bundle. On the other hand, educational unbundling — assembling a variety of services from a range of providers to educate a given child — is ubiquitous outside of formal, K–12 schools, in the informal, special, religious, higher, and home education sectors.
The example these sectors offer, along with new information technology that dramatically reduces the search and transaction costs of unbundling, are beginning to penetrate the core functions of K–12 schooling as well. Ultimately, unbundling will require states to adopt new regulatory paradigms for schooling that disentangle the regulation of provision and of assembly. Regulation of provision will be limited by the First Amendment, which forbids substantial restrictions on what ideas are communicated to children; the obvious regulatory model is consumer protection. Regulation of assembly will need to regulate families directly; the obvious model is homeschooling (though perhaps not the laissez-faire regulatory approach today typically applied to homeschoolers). Moreover, the regulation of assembly will need to consider the probability that both traditional public schools and private parties, including religious groups, will likely also offer bundling services in the marketplace, targeting parents unwilling or unable to do it themselves.
Keywords: education; bundling; information technology; informal education; cyberschools; curriculum; primary education; secondary education; privatization
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