Skip to comments.John Stossel: Public Schools Need More Competition
Posted on 09/04/2006 3:36:41 PM PDT by Diana in Wisconsin
This week's back-to-school ads offer amazing bargains on lightweight backpacks and nifty school supplies. All those businesses scramble to offer us good stuff at low prices. It's amazing what competition does for consumers. The power to say no to one business and yes to another is awesome.
Too bad we don't apply that idea to schools themselves.
Education bureaucrats and teachers unions are against it. They insist they must dictate where kids go to school, what they study, and when. When I went on TV to say that it's a myth that a government monopoly can educate kids effectively, hundreds of union teachers demonstrated outside my office demanding that I apologize.
The teachers union didn't like my "government monopoly" comment, but even the late Albert Shanker, once president of the American Federation of Teachers, admitted that our schools are virtual monopolies of the state - run pretty much like Cuban and North Korean schools. He said, "It's time to admit that the public education system operates like a planned economy, a bureaucratic system in which everybody's role is spelled out in advance and there are few incentives for innovation and productivity. It's no surprise that our school system doesn't improve. It more resembles the communist economy than our own market economy."
When a government monopoly limits competition, we can't know what ideas would bloom if competition were allowed. Surveys show that most American parents are satisfied with their kids' public schools, but that's only because they don't know what their kids might have had!
As Nobel Prize-winning economist F.A. Hayek wrote, "Competition is valuable only because, and so far as, its results are unpredictable and on the whole different from those which anyone has, or could have, deliberately aimed at."
What Hayek means is that no mortal being can imagine what improvements a competitive market would bring.
But I'll try anyway: I bet we'd see cheap and efficient Costco-like schools, virtual schools where you learn at home on your computer, sports schools, music schools, schools that go all year, schools with uniforms, schools that open early and keep kids later, and, who knows what?
Every economics textbook says monopolies are bad because they charge high prices for shoddy goods. But it's government that gives us monopolies. So why do we entrust something as important as our children's education to a government monopoly?
The monopoly fails so many kids that more than a million parents now make big sacrifices to home-school their kids. Two percent of school-aged kids are home-schooled now. If parents weren't taxed to pay for lousy government schools, more might teach their kids at home.
Some parents choose to home-school for religious reasons, but home-schooling has been increasing by 10 percent a year because so many parents are just fed up with the government's schools.
Home-schooled students blow past their public-school counterparts in terms of achievement. Brian Ray, who taught in both public and private schools before becoming president of the National Home Education Research Institute, says, "In study after study, children who learn at home consistently score 15-30 percentile points above the national averages," he says. Home-schooled kids also score almost 10 percent higher than the average American high school student on the ACT.
I don't know how these home-schooling parents do it. I couldn't do it. I'd get impatient and fight with my kids too much.
But it works for lots of kids and parents. So do private schools. It's time to give parents more options.
Instead of pouring more money into the failed government monopoly, let's free parents to control their own education money. Competition is a lot smarter than bureaucrats.
Public education was founded on good principles. It was hijacked, like the democratic party, like the media, civil service, like, perhaps, the CIA -- hijacked by the left.
So, do we stand around and let them take it?
Of course they hated what Stossel said! They're all wrong, but they enjoy large numbers, so they're CONFINDENT. And so they feel RIGHT.
So naturally, HE should shut up...
(No more Olmert! No more Kadima! No more Oslo! )
Our founders are brilliant. They built competition into the very machinery of our government.
Competition begins in the public square -- in the marketplace of ideas, in the trenches of down-and-dirty citizenship, where so few dare to tread.
When one party doesn't enter it, though, it ain't much of a comptetition and it ain't much of a marketplace, either.
Dang, wish we could find some of Stossels stuff for the Nation that has the 2nd largest population of Spanish Speakers...the USA.
That's why we need vouchers.
It all comes down to interest on behalf of the kids. If you can`t spark a kids interest, it will be difficult for him to learn or teach. If a kid is interested, if the kid sees it as fun, stand back because that kid will eat it up. The problem with education is they do it all wrong, they are using methods that are 100`s of years old and they can`t let go. You have to follow the interest. If you want them to learn something like math, it has to be presented differently than how it is from a book. For some kids that method works, but for most it doesn`t.
The public school is today's equivalent to an Established Church. The Establishment in Massachusetts was ended in 1833 after the Unitarians won control of it through the courts. The losers, the Congregationists, joined the the baptists and the Catholics, to disestablish it. Pay for preachers was ended ; The buildings were privatized. If the public schools were to be treated the same, turned over to private corporations, or even back to the exclusive control of the local school districts, then improvement might take place. They would at least have the strangling hold of state and federal bureaucracy removed from their throats.
I know. I like him in spite of himself. ;)
Without parents there would be no chance of making changes in the system.
I'm all for homeschooling.......but it is not for everyone, including myself.
Amen! We need 'em right now>
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