US Schools:Stuck on Stupid

January 13, 2006


John Stossel of ABC News looks into school choice, why schools don’t teach as well as they used to, and the future of public education in one of his news specials tonight at 10pm entitled, “Stupid in America.” Stossel will be in Portland February 5th speaking about this as well as other issues he’s delved into over the years. Stossel is in Portland as a guest of Cascade Policy Institute and KPAM Radio. We’ll see you there. Meantime, watch tonight and be amazed! Here’s an opinion piece Stossel has just written for Reason Magazine.
Here’s a takeaway from his Reason piece on kids taking the same tests in the US and Belgium.

The Belgians did better because their schools are better. At age ten, American students take an international test and score well above the international average. But by age fifteen, when students from forty countries are tested, the Americans place twenty-fifth. The longer kids stay in American schools, the worse they do in international competition. They do worse than kids from countries that spend much less money on education.
This should come as no surprise once you remember that public education in the USA is a government monopoly. Don’t like your public school? Tough. The school is terrible? Tough. Your taxes fund that school regardless of whether it’s good or bad. That’s why government monopolies routinely fail their customers. Union-dominated monopolies are even worse.
The inability to fire the bad and reward the good is the biggest reason schools fail the kids. Lack of money is often cited the reason schools fail, but America doubled per pupil spending, adjusting for inflation, over the last 30 years. Test scores and graduation rates stayed flat. New York City now spends an extraordinary $11,000 per student. That’s $220,000 for a classroom of twenty kids. Couldn’t you hire two or three excellent teachers and do a better job with $220,000?

Tell ’em where you saw it. Http://