Value judgments camouflaged as objective science are common. But this example of such a deceptive maneuver is simply ludicrous. So here’s my open letter to the authors of this study:
Professors Julian D. Marshall, Ryan D. Wilson, Katie L. Meyer, Santhosh K. Rajangam, Noreen C. McDonald, Elizabeth J. Wilson
Department of Civil Engineering
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455 and etc….
I just read your paper entitled “Vehicle Emissions during Children’s School Commuting: Impacts of Education Policy,” published recently in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
In this paper you argue that increased school choice – by promoting more vehicular traffic – might have a detrimental impact on the environment. As such, you suggest that policies to enhance school choice not be adopted unless and until they pass environmental muster. Or, as you put it, “Our findings underscore the need to critically evaluate transportation-related environmental and health impacts of currently proposed changes in school policy.”
Your insight is a real eye-opener, with implications far beyond the narrow issue of K-12 school choice!
For example, why limit your study to proposals for K-12 educational choice? Too many young men and women who attend college surely commute too far – some actually leave their homes to move across the country! – thus poisoning everyone’s lungs in their selfish quest to attend the colleges of their own choosing. Further research by you will likely discover that it’s best to prohibit Americans from attending colleges far from home.
And why stop with education? Perhaps another future study can be on the environmental impact of supermarket choice. After all, with people free to drive wherever they wish to buy groceries, it’s almost certainly the case that too many of us drive hither and yon unnecessarily, wasting our time and fouling the air. I’ll bet that your research will show that restricting each American to shopping only at that supermarket nearest to his or her home will reduce vehicular emissions and, hence, help the environment.
Indeed, the possibilities suggested by your research are infinite. No telling how much filth is spit into our environment everyday by people needlessly driving to churches, restaurants, shopping malls, gyms, physicians’ offices, night clubs – even friends’ homes – when they could easily go to (and, hence, should forcibly be restricted to) churches, restaurants, etc. – and even to the homes of friends – who are located closer to their where they live.
I look forward to reading your follow-up research.
Donald J. Boudreaux
UPDATE: My friend Nick Calapa points out in an e-mail to me that, if we take this study seriously, the best education policy is home-schooling.