Focus Point - Fixing Education

Commentary by Pete du Pont

I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. President Bush's first legislative proposal was his education bill. Alas, the education establishment gutted it. Vouchers to save poor kids from bad schools are gone. Annual testing's been diluted.

Meanwhile, in the real world, parents in Michigan and Pennsylvania - thanks to former Governors Engler and Ridge, and standard and poors company -- can now evaluate the comparative educational quality of their children's schools.

S&P tracks, including test scores, class size, spending and financial environment and other factors. The results, one administrator put it, showed the districts' qualities, warts and all. S&P describes each district's strengths and weaknesses and compares them to similar districts.

I roamed the website, read the good and the bad. The Pennsylvania site graphically illustrates the disastrous state of Philadelphia's school system. The results intensify the debate over an existing proposal for private management of Philly schools. As Tom Ridge said in his farewell address to the state legislature, "Some would prefer publicly operated schools that fail children to privately operated schools that serve them well." Unfortunately, some are in the congress.

Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont. Next time, economic myths.