Nope. And I was especially surprised by one history lesson they taught me: "Public schools are what distinguish democracies from every other system in the world," and a country without strong public schools "lends itself to authoritarian thinking."
Competition Works. Let it Help Our Schools
Take education. Bureaucrats like to say, you will go to this school, because we said so, and you will be taught according to this program, because we said so and we know best. Those of us with confidence in markets think you could do better deciding for yourself. Neither the bureaucrats nor the freedom lovers can judge what's in your interest better than you can. One big difference is, we know what we don't know, while they think they know everything.
We do know that competition works. It works because it gives people the chance to be creative. Educational experts, freed from the massive regulations that snarl the public schools, can come up with new and better ideas for teaching. Competition works because it gives people incentives to produce -- it inspires them to work constantly at trying to find better ways to please their customers. The bad producers lose their jobs -- but the best ones gain new customers. Bad schools will close and better schools will open.
This isn't even debatable.
This winter's Florida court ruling against school choice came after former teacher Ruth Holmes Cameron brought a suit. "To say that competition is going to improve education -- it's just not going to work," she said. "You know, competition is not for children. It's not for human beings, it's not for public education."
I am only half joking.
In 2001, Harvard economist Caroline Hoxby found that Milwaukee's private school vouchers made the nearby public schools (which were competing for the same students) change. "[Public] school principals were allowed to have a lot more autonomy," she said, "They counseled teachers out of teaching altogether who really weren't performing or showing up on the job -- they put in new back to basics curricula in some primary schools that really needed that so that reading skills and math skills would go up." Test results at those public schools went up by 7.1 percent in math, 8.4 percent in science, and 3.0 percent in language. Scores went up in voucher schools, too.
Competition worked -- for human beings, and for public education.
The Inescapable Facts on Public Education
I'm sorry that union teachers are mad at me. But when it comes to the union-dominated monopoly, the facts are inescapable. Many kids are miserable in bad schools. If they are not rich enough to move, or to pay for private school, they are trapped.
It doesn't have to be that way. We know what works: choice. That's what's brought Americans better computers, phones, movies, music, supermarkets -- most everything we have. Schoolchildren deserve the joyous benefits of market competition too.
Unions say, "education of the children is too important to be left to the vagaries of the market." The opposite is true. Education is too important to be left to the calcified union/government monopoly.
Answering the Teachers Unions - Stossel answers teachers critical of his show.
Hard to excerpt a summery of the points made in this article, so I will take the point that tickles me the most:
Fascinating. I guess the Communists all went to private school...
And I was especially surprised by one history lesson they taught me: "Public schools are what distinguish democracies from every other system in the world," and a country without strong public schools "lends itself to authoritarian thinking."
Stossel focuses on the value of open markets and competition, and the failures of bureaucracy. Sowell points out that the bureaucratic stranglehold on public schools is also ideological.
Academic Freedom and Classroom Brainwashing
All across the country, from the elementary schools to the universities, students report being propagandized. That the propaganda is almost invariably from the political left is secondary. The fact that it is political propaganda instead of the subject matter of the class is what is crucial.
The lopsided imbalance among college professors in their political parties is a symptom of the problem, rather than the fundamental problem itself.
If physicists taught physics and economists taught economics, what they did on their own time politically would be no more relevant than whether they go swimming or sky diving on their days off. But politics is intruded, not only into the classroom, but into hiring decisions as well.
Even top scholars who are conservatives are unlikely to be hired by many colleges and universities. Similarly with people training to become public school teachers. Some in schools of education have said that, to be qualified, you have to see teaching as a means of social change -- meaning change in a leftward direction.
RealClearPolitics linked this article on their Opinion/Buzztracker section. It occurs to me that I should have specifically linked RealClearPolitics in my original post, especially because I linked three of their John Stossel articles in a row.