Glen Whitman, blogging in Agoraphilia blog, asks an important question:
There are plenty of other goods and services that we want to make sure people have; food, shelter, and clothing come to mind. But with food, do we expect the government to run the farms and grocery stores? No. If some people can’t afford food, we subsidize them with welfare checks or (if we want to make sure they’re really buying food) with food stamps. Do we expect the government to provide housing? Well, we’ve had our experience with public housing, and it’s been almost uniformly recognized (even by liberals) as a disaster. So now advocates for the poor push for housing vouchers, which poor people can use to pay some or all of their rent. Do we expect the government to provide clothing? No. Again, we give poor people welfare checks, which they can use to buy clothes. If we were concerned that they were buying too much booze and too few shoes, we’d probably give them clothing coupons. (Maybe we already do.)
So, to repeat Megan, what makes education special? Education is not especially different from many other goods and services. It has no unusual features that make it unlikely to be provided by a private market in an efficient fashion. The only issue is that some people might not be able to afford it. So why not just give people money (in the form of vouchers, to make sure they spend it on education) and let them go to their provider of choice?
It is a question I alluded to previously, here.