NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 13, 2007

Americans want universal education, just as they want universally safe food.  But nobody believes that the government should run nearly all of the restaurants, farms and supermarkets. Why should it run the vast majority of the schools?  The simple fact is that one of the surest ways to leave a kid "behind" is to hand him over to the government, says Jonah Goldberg, editor-at-large of National Review Online.

Consider Washington D.C.:

  • Out of the 100 largest school districts, according to the Washington Post, the District ranks third in spending for each pupil ($12,979) but last in spending on instruction.
  • Some 56 cents out of every dollar go to administrators who, it's no secret, do a miserable job administrating, even though D.C. schools have been in a state of "reform" for nearly 40 years.

Further, the Post has documented how badly the bureaucrats have run public education:

  • More than half of the District of Columbia's teenage kids spend their days in persistently dangerous schools, with an average of nine violent incidents a day in a system with 135 schools.
  • Principals reporting dangerous conditions or urgently needed repairs in their buildings wait, on average, 379 days for the problems to be fixed, according to the Post.
  • A mere 19 schools managed to get "proficient" scores or better for a majority of students on the district's Comprehensive Assessment Test.

Private, parochial and charter schools get better results, says Goldberg.  Parents know this. Applications for vouchers in the district dwarf the available supply and home schooling has exploded.  There's a consensus in America that every child should get an education, but as David Gelernter noted recently in the Weekly Standard, there's no such consensus that public schools need to do the educating.

Source: Jonah Goldberg, "Do Away With Public Schools,", June 13, 2007.


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