John Stossel Exciting Schools

Saw John Stossel’s program about schools on FOX and thought it was excellent. This article is a part of that episode and is very informative.

Excerpt: School spending has doubled over the past 30 years. Yet what do we get? More buildings and more assistant principals — but student learning? No improvement. If you graph the numbers, the spending line slopes steeply, while the lines for reading, math and science scores are as flat as a dead man’s EKG.

Why no improvement? Because K-12 education is a government monopoly, and monopolies don’t improve.

And yet I’m happy to announce some good news: Cool things are starting to happen in classrooms.

I was surprised to meet kids who said they like school. What? I found school boring. How can it be that these fourth-graders tell me that they look forward to going to school and that math is “rockin’ awesome”?

Those kids attend one of those new charter schools. Charters let them escape the bureaucracy of regular schools, including, often, teachers union rules. These schools compete for kids because parents can always choose another school. That makes them better.

Because of that attitude, people who try to start charter schools often find that bureaucrats make it hard. But in one city, most kids now attend charters. How did that happen?

It happened because when Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of New Orleans, it also destroyed the school system. Some school reformers thought that might be a blessing.

“It was probably one of the worst school districts in the country,” said Paul Pastorek, former Louisiana state superintendent of education. The state faced a choice: Rebuild the old system or build something new. It built something new. Opening charters became easy. Today, most kids in New Orleans attend charter schools, and test scores are better.

Competition drives schools to try different things in order to succeed. It’s similar to what happens with consumer goods — computers, refrigerators, cars — that get better every year.

If charter schools do this well, imagine what a really free and competitive system — one without compulsory tax financing and bureaucratic chartering procedures — could do.

Our kids deserve a free market in education.

Read full Townhall article here.

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