Wednesday, January 25, 2006

ABC: The Education Monopoloy is Cheating our Kids

Lackadaisacal students. Poor test results. An unceasing litany of tax hikes. John Stossel's report on our disfunctional educational system is aptly named. It's called, "Stupid in America."

Jay Greene, author of "Education Myths," points out that "If money were the solution, the problem would already be solved … We've doubled per pupil spending, adjusting for inflation, over the last 30 years, and yet schools aren't better."

He's absolutely right. National graduation rates and achievement scores are flat, while spending on education has increased more than 100 percent since 1971. More money hasn't helped American kids.

Ben Chavis is a former public school principal who now runs an alternative charter school in Oakland, Calif., that spends thousands of dollars less per student than the surrounding public schools. He laughs at the public schools' complaints about money.

"That is the biggest lie in America. They waste money," he said.

So what's the solution? As usual, competition. Not only does it work -- and it's been proven to do so in other countries -- it's astonishingly successful:

To give you an idea of how competitive American schools are and how U.S. students performed compared with their European counterparts, we gave parts of an international test to some high school students in Belgium and in New Jersey... [the] Belgian kids cleaned the American kids' clocks, and called them "stupid."

...American schools don't teach as well as schools in other countries because they are government monopolies, and monopolies don't have much incentive to compete. In Belgium, by contrast, the money is attached to the kids — it's a kind of voucher system. Government funds education — at many different kinds of schools — but if a school can't attract students, it goes out of business.

Sip the sweet nectar of wisdom and read the whole thing.

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