April 10, 2009
Government Schools Win AgainBy Lloyd Brown
Whew! That was close. Nearly 1,700 children had escaped from the failing public schools in Washington, D.C., and were getting a decent education in private schools - just like the children of fat-cat liberal politicians.
But the fat-cat politicians in Congress put a stop to that. They killed the voucher program that a recent study showed had provided those children some hope of escaping from poverty.
Self-interest trumped any concern for the future of those children. The fact that they were not attending public schools meant less money was going to the public schools.
That money goes into the paychecks of teachers and a percentage of those paychecks goes to the teacher unions that control the schools in places like Washington, D.C., and New York city. (See The Worm in the Apple by Peter Brimelow.)
Money from the teacher union treasuries then goes into the campaign war chests of liberal politicians, completing the cycle.
Those benefiting from this vicious cycle - a group that does not include the children or the taxpayers - say the schools need the money.
People of ordinary intelligence, however, recognize that the public schools lose nothing when a student goes to another school. If they don't have the child to educate, they don't need the money to educate the child.
One educator tried to "explain" to me that the public schools have certain fixed costs that remain even when a child leaves. In turn, I explained to him that if 600 children leave, that is one less expensive elementary school that needs to be built.
It was also necessary to explain that the cost of a voucher always is less than the cost of a public school, so the taxpayers save heaps of money. Jay Greene, a Harvard Ph.D. at the Manhattan Institute, also found that Florida public schools showed improvement when forced to compete for students eligible for vouchers.
Then there is the bottom line. By getting an education, poor kids have a shot at becoming prosperous and productive, which also saves future taxpayers gobs of money.
This is all beside the point to the teacher union bosses. Results don't matter to them. All that matters is the input: money.
Liberals equate spending on education with educational improvement, ignoring the fact that spending has doubled and tripled over the past few decades without any improvement in the education children get. In fact, test scores show the longer a child stays in public school, the less he knows, compared to students in other nations.
Thus, if cars were rolling off the assembly lines at General Motors without any wheels it would be all right, if the workers were getting high salaries.
If you want to confound a liberal, ask him at what level of spending public schools would begin to do the job of educating children. The only figure they know is "more."
Catholic schools in New York do a better job at educating children than the public schools, while drawing from the same demographic pool, at much lower cost. But when they offered to teach the kids in failing schools, teacher unions quickly manned the barricades and prevented that from happening. Another close call.
Teacher union bosses say parents aren't interested in vouchers. Yet, when vouchers became available in Washington four families applied for each voucher available.
Public schools purport to instill appreciation for diversity in children, along with self-esteem.
That self-esteem, if it exists, can last only until graduates fail to get a job because they can't read and write well enough to fill out a job application form.
Lloyd Brown is a retired editorial page editor and occasional blogger.