March 8, 2006
The Inescapable Facts on Public Education
Teachers unions are mad at me. The New York State United Teachers
demands I apologize for my "gutter level" journalism,
"an irresponsible assault on public school students and teachers."
This is because I hosted an ABC News TV special titled "Stupid
in America," which pointed out:
fourth graders do well on international tests, but by high school,
Americans have fallen behind kids in most other countries.
-- The constant
refrain that "public schools need more money" is nonsense.
Many countries that spend significantly less on education do better
than we do. School spending in America (adjusted for inflation)
has more than tripled over the past 30 years, but national test
scores are flat. The average per-pupil cost today is an astonishing
$10,000 per student -- $200,000 per classroom! Think about how
many teachers you could hire, and how much better you could do
with that amount of money.
American parents give their kids' schools an A or B grade, but
that's only because, without market competition, they don't know
what they might have had. The educators who conduct the international
tests say that most of the countries that do best are those that
give school managers autonomy, and give parents and students the
right to choose their schools. Competition forces private and
public schools to improve.
is little K-12 education competition in America because public
schools are a government monopoly. Monopolies rarely innovate,
and union-dominated monopolies, burdened with contracts filled
with a hundred pages of suffocating rules, are worse. The head
of New York City's schools told me that the union's rules "reward
angered the unions. But when they criticize my "bias and
ignorance," I don't hear them refute the points listed above.
They don't refute them because they can't. It's just a fact that
rules that insist an energetic, hard-working teacher who makes
learning fun must be paid exactly the same as a lazy, incompetent
teacher are rules that promote mediocrity.
before I did "Stupid in America," the New York teachers
union wanted to give me an award. The United Federation of Teachers'
Social Studies Conference wrote: "Our organization, ATSS/UFT,
would be proud to present you with the Hubert H. Humphrey Humanitarian
Award for the outstanding work which you have done for social
causes. ... Your development and generous sponsorship of In the
Classroom Media provide students with the opportunity to enhance
their civics education. This is the highest award that we can
give to an individual. Past honorees have included Mario Cuomo,
Shirley Chisholm, Charles Schumer, Dolores Huerta, Major Owens,
Charles Rangel ... "
Schumer, Charlie Rangel and me! Alas, after my education special
aired, they decided not to give me the award. Apparently my work
with In the Classroom Media -- which provides teachers with videos
about the free market -- only helps kids as long as I stay away
from the "social cause" most relevant to them: their
teachers' unions announced that Wednesday (3/8), they will hold
demonstrations against me and ABC in New York City, Chicago, Atlanta,
Detroit, and elsewhere. One police permit suggests the crowd outside
my office will number 750-1,000 people. It should be interesting.
want to make sure that ABC hears the voices of incredibly hard-working
teachers," says the union website, quoting New York City's
UFT President Randi Weingarten. "The network needs to hear
how unfair and biased those of you in the trenches believe their
broadcast to have been."
that union teachers are mad at me. But when it comes to the union-dominated
monopoly, the facts are inescapable. Many kids are miserable in
bad schools. If they are not rich enough to move, or to pay for
private school, they are trapped.
have to be that way. We know what works: choice. That's what's
brought Americans better computers, phones, movies, music, supermarkets
-- most everything we have. Schoolchildren deserve the joyous
benefits of market competition too.
"education of the children is too important to be left to
the vagaries of the market." The opposite is true. Education
is too important to be left to the calcified union/government
JFS Productions, Inc. Distributed by Creators Syndicate