The media and the Internet are full of stories of parent unsatisfaction with the educational choices, or lack there of, available to their children. It is also no secret that that American does not rank well with their counter parts in other countries.
Recently Michael Clements, writing for Political Realities, made his case for more competitiveness in our school system. here are some excerpts that caught my eye. The first has to do with the American Legislative Exchange Council’s “Report Card on American Education”.
The Report Card opens with an account of a school lottery in New York City. In the story, 1,500 families showed up for a chance at one of 100 available spots in a Harlem charter school. One mother explained that if her daughter had been awarded one of the spots she and the girl would have had to make a two-hour one way trip on ferries, subways and busses to get to the school. The mother said it would have been worth it.
“The payoff would be getting her an education,” the mother said.
How many parents out there can identify with this mother? I urge you to read all of Mr. Clements’ essay. For my purposes, I want to share his closing sentences:
All parents should have the right to take their children and their money to whichever school is best suited to meet their needs. What is at stake is much more than a car that doesn’t run or a clerk who is rude.
What is at stake is the very future of our country.
A compelling argument, is it not? I very much agree with Mr. Clement that our education system could greatly benefit from more competition.
Kevin Hoffman, writing for the Washington Post, has another story that demonstrates the failure of our educational system as it is. Here are some excerpts from Mr. Hoffmna’s article:
Last week, 40-year-old Ohio mother Kelley Williams-Bolar was released after serving nine days in jail on a felony conviction for tampering with records. Williams-Bolar’s offense? Lying about her address so her two daughters, zoned to the lousy Akron city schools, could attend better schools in the neighboring Copley-Fairlawn district.
Mr. Hoffman’s article, among other things, deals with issues of race and poverty in a thought-provoking way. Do give it a read. Here is how he rapped-up his article:
Like millions of parents hoping to do right by their kids, Kelley Williams-Bolar thought that schools were the answer. She didn’t have the luxury of waiting a generation while intellectuals argue about poverty or culture. She looked at her options, she looked at the law and she looked at her children. Then she made a choice.
What would you have done?
Both above stories point to the fact that the American educational system is broken. It is not even close to producing the results that parents so desperately want for their children. So what is the answer? President Obama in his recent State of the Union address stated that he plans to “invest” (spend) more money on education. Is that what you think is needed?
Andrew J. Coulson at Cato Liberty has some thoughts and statistics that might help you answer the question of whether or not more money for education is called for. Here is an excerpt and a chart that I think you will find interesting:
Give kids a better education and they’ll be more successful when they ultimately enter the workforce. Sounds plausible enough. And if you dig into the scholarly research you find that, lo and behold, it’s actually true. Nations that improve student achievement the most end up with faster economic growth.
But that leaves us with one important question: does higher government education spending raise academic achievement?
You may be wondering: ”What did we get for that huge increase in spending?” The answer is: a lot more public school employees. The next chart adds an extra trend line to the one above: the number of public school employees divided by the number of students enrolled. This ratio of staff to students has gone up by 70 percent since 1970, swelling the ranks of the public school employee unions to about 4.5 million people.
I was planning to dazzle you with my own analysis of this chart but the truth is Mr. Coulson does it much better than I ever could. Here are his conclusions:
What can we conclude from the above charts? By calling for a big increase in government education spending as a way to boost the U.S. economy, the president is doubling down on a bet that has already been lost, repeatedly, by his predecessors. Love isn’t the only thing money can’t buy. It can’t buy you an improved public school system either. And by extension, higher government education spending won’t buy you a better economy.
If the president goes ahead with his plan to spend billions more on public schooling, he’ll be driving this country deeper into dept for no good reason at all… unless of course you consider swelling the ranks of the public school employee unions a good reason.
Clearly, repeating the same mistakes over and over again is not the answer In my humble opinion, we are going to have to wrench the power away from the federal government and move it closer to the people so that parents can be more involved in the policy making process as far as determining what it is exactly that we want from our schools. Then we have to decide who can best provide the services that we want. I suspect we will find that the private sector is best suited to supply most of we want. What ever part is best filled by the public sector should be controlled at the local ans state level. I, personally, don’t see any role for the federal government. What is your opinion?