Focus Point - Bad Schools Burn Money

Commentary by Pete du Pont

I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. It's time to face the fact that most American public schools are educating poorly, and thereby denying millions of American children the opportunity to succeed.

Over the past 20 years, we've increased per-student spending from $5,000 to $8,000. We've cheapened grades so children's self-esteem won't be bruised. Teachers' unions fight any attempt to tie pay to performance.

Where choice plans have survived union and court challenges, parents have lined up for them. But now we need to think big. President-elect Bush's plan to double the number of charter schools has substance, as does his idea to let low-income parents from persistently failing schools use their child's Chapter I funds to move to another school.

Next should come a G.I. bill for low-income kids: Any child who qualifies for the Federal School Lunch Program gets an annual grant to attend the school of his choice.

Bad education is the last barrier to equality of opportunity. It's a civil rights issue, and that's how we should argue.

Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont, and I'll see you next time.