I have the best group of girlfriends and neighbors and many nights of the week we can be found discussing various hot topics, many of them political, while watching our kids play in the cul-de-sac. We vary in our opinions, but we always learn from each other and have a good time debating the issues and while our passions can sometimes be easily detected in our raised voices- we always know that our respect for each other will keep us all friends despite our leanings.
You could say we resemble the panel on “The View” but we’re a lot cuter (okay, Elizabeth Hasselbeck is pretty cute too- although her watered down, so called “Conservative” opinions leave a lot to be desired from us REAL Conservative girls), and we aren’t Communists like Joy Behar.
The topic of School Vouchers has come up on more than one occasion and a couple of my friends raised some good questions on the whole issue that has caused me to delve a little bit further into the details in an effort to answer them.
Unfortunately, the more I dig into this complicated mess called Public Education, the more disgusted I get. Our public school education was treated as a local and state issue for over 200 hundred years until one of the worst Presidents in American History marched onto the scene. We can thank Jimmy Carter for creating the Department of Education, a bureaucratic mess that took our schools out of the local citizen’s hands and put them under the control of the voracious appetites of the federal government.
In order to understand the extent of our current problem so as to justify an overhaul of our public education system, let me paint a very small picture that doesn’t even come close to revealing the scale of failure occurring among our current generation of children.
In spite of throwing more than four times the amount of funds at our schools than we did a mere four decades ago, our kids are graduating high school and more than one million incoming college students still have to take remedial classes just to catch up. That’s an additional 2.5 BILLION dollars of your tax revenue at work each year! In a recent poll by National Geographic, 50% of 18-24 year olds could not locate New York State on a map. What a return we are getting on those “investments!”
John Stossel did an eye-opening report on the status of American Schools last year and brought up the idea of vouchers. After interviewing schools all over the world, where the students giggle behind their hands at the “stupid American children,” he revealed that American children are coming in behind some of the poorest countries like South Korea, Belgium and the Czech Republic.
He interviewed an 18 year old boy who was struggling to read a first grade level book- despite the fact that more than $100,000 has been spent on his education by the federal government over the last twelve years. He set this young man up with private tutors at Sylvan and within 72 hours had increased his reading by two grade levels.
While US Census reports reflect that we spent $9138 per student in 2005-2006, other reports contradict it and indicate perhaps it’s at least double that. Can you imagine having that kind of money to spend at the school of your choice? How would you like to have this money personally to send them to the finest private schools in your city? I see glaring hypocrisy when a group of elected officials piously demand that they want the best for your children but adamantly refuse free choice in order to have an actual chance at the best!
I guess it’s barely worth mentioning that due to the 10th Amendment it’s very clear that the federal government has absolutely no business being in the education industry. That little clause states, “The powers NOT delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are RESERVED TO THE STATES respectively, or TO THE PEOPLE.”
When money is attached to anything, including a child, it becomes worth something. Anything of value is treated with respect… and that would include an education. I have a pretty good picture in my mind of what would happen if schools had to COMPETE for your child. What kind of teachers would they recruit? What kind of performance would they demand out of those teachers and the others on their staffs? What kind of condition would the schools be in? What kind of technology would be invested in to reap the highest standards out of these new little learners? The control would be given back to mom and dad and taken away from the union and the government where it never should have belonged in the first place.
We already know the results of such a thing because it’s been tested. For example, Thurgood Marshall Academy located in Washington DC and is in one of the worst and most dangerous districts in the city. The public schools there are disgusting, the homicide rates are over the top at 30%, it has the lowest graduation rate in the city, and the average income is $14,000 a year.
Thurgood Marshall is the exception. It’s a charter school without the regulation of a strong-fisted government. The children there have a 95% attendance rate, the third highest test scores of any D.C. High School and an ASTOUNDING 100% of the school’s first four classes went on to college! What’s the differing factor? Not the children! Same children, same ward… but a privatized education!!
Let’s compare our public school system with another demographic… Home-schoolers. An independent study of more than 5,000 home-schooled students showed that they outperformed public school students by 30%-37% in all subjects. Another study showed that they scored up to 28% higher than public school averages on the Stanford Achievement Test.
I don’t know about you but I’m making a motion that what we are doing isn’t working. More money and more government have only equaled more problems. And I’m pretty certain that continuing to do the same thing but expecting a different result can only define insanity.