January 11, 2006
Public Schools Are Cheating the Children
Last week, Florida's
supreme court ruled that public money can't be spent on private
schools because the state constitution commands the funding of only
"uniform . . . high-quality" schools. How absurd. As if
government schools are uniformly high quality. Or even mostly decent.
competition, which made even the Postal Service improve, is unconstitutional
when it comes to public education in Florida.
when the Postal Service said it couldn't get it there overnight?
Then companies like FedEx were allowed to compete. Private enterprise
got it there absolutely, positively overnight. Now even the Post
Office guarantees overnight delivery sometimes. Competition works.
education work the same way? If people got to choose their kids'
school, education options would be endless. My tiny brain can't
begin to imagine the possibilities, but even I can guess there
soon would be technology schools, cheap Wal-Mart-like schools,
virtual schools where you learn at home on your computer, sports
schools, music schools, schools that go all year, schools with
uniforms, schools that open early and keep kids later, and, who
knows? If there were competition, all kinds of new ideas would
happens overseas, and the results are good.
in America," a special report ABC will air Friday, we gave
identical tests to high school students in New Jersey and Belgium.
The Belgians trounced the Americans. We didn't pick smart kids
in Europe and dumb kids in the United States. The American students
attend an above-average school in New Jersey, and New Jersey kids'
test scores are above average for America. "It has to be
something with the school," said a New Jersey student, "'cause
I don't think we're stupider."
right: It's the schools. At age 10, students from 25 countries
take the same test, and American kids place eighth, well above
the international average. But by age 15, when students from 40
countries are tested, the Americans place 25th, well below the
international average. In other words, the longer American kids
stay in American schools, the worse they do. They do worse than
kids from much poorer countries, like Korea and Poland.
come as no surprise since public education in the USA is a government
monopoly. If you don't like your public school? Tough. If the
school is terrible? Tough. Your taxes fund that school regardless
of whether it's good or bad.
monopolies routinely fail their customers.
runs a Belgian government school, but in Belgium, school funding
follows students, even to private schools. So Vandensavel has
to work hard to impress the parents. "If we don't offer them
what they want for their child, they won't come to our school."
That pressure makes a world of difference, she says. It forces
Belgian schools to innovate in order to appeal to parents and
students. Vandensavel's school offers extra sports programs and
classes in hairdressing, car mechanics, cooking, and furniture
building. She told us, "We have to work hard day after day.
Otherwise you just [go] out of business."
normal in Western Europe," Harvard economist Caroline Hoxby
told me. "If schools don't perform well, a parent would never
be trapped in that school in the same way you could be trapped
in the U.S."
adds, "America seems like a medieval country . . . a Communist
country on the educational level, because there's no freedom of
choice -- not for parents, not for pupils."
through 12th grade, that is. Colleges compete, so the United States
has many of the most prestigious in the world -- eight of the
top 10 universities, on a Chinese list of the world's top 500.
(The other two are Cambridge and Oxford.)
is why universities and private schools perform better. Every
day they are held accountable by parents and students, and if
they fail the kids, school administrators lose their jobs. Public
school officials almost never lose jobs.
schools are accountable only to their fellow politicians, and
that kind of accountability is virtually no accountability.
schools are cheating the children.
JFS Productions, Inc. Distributed by Creators Syndicate