New York City, with the nation’s largest school system, recently took the courageous step of releasing teacher effectiveness data. Predictably, that profession’s union balked at the accountability. Thus demonstrating, for some, public education is more about business than children.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 7.2 million teachers in America making an average of $52,800 for 10 months work. Our kids are compelled to attend and those paying taxes are compelled to fund. Those running the system are not compelled to succeed. That’s a first order monopoly ripe for abuse and failure.
That our public education system is failing is indisputable. Recent statistics provided by the Program for International Student Assessment has the U.S. scoring 500 on an education scale of 1000. While our peers are spending less and achieving excellence, we’re spending more and recycling mediocrity.
Local education vanities continue. Asheville’s per student budget is almost twice that of the county. Minority graduation rates poorly validate this taxpayer investment. Though both systems operate an education TV channel at public expense, Buncombe’s School Board curiously avoids televised meetings. Their camera shyness reveals the difference in a vigilant oversight body and an administration cheerleading squad. A-B Tech’s sales tax was recently orchestrated around an election guaranteeing low participation. Public manipulation is a precursor to public fleecing. UNC-A is a celebrated community center for liberal, socialist, and progressive indoctrination – an ironic path running in direct opposition to the honest tenets of liberalized education.
Speaking of higher education, student debt, fast approaching the trillion dollar mark, now exceeds national credit card debt. Worse, much of that debt applies to unmarketable or low-salary degrees more about nice than necessary. The culprit in this impending bubble is a college system where salaries, buildings, costs, and staffs grow exponentially, but efficiencies don’t. At least in Vegas they swindle you with free drinks and clearly stated odds.
Solutions center on rewarding innovation, competency, and achievement instead of politicians, teachers unions, and other beneficiaries of an enterprise masquerading as a service. Money should follow students instead of power.
The original vision of public education was to insure all children had access to a good education. Where that education begins, be it in a charter, private, home or public school, matters far less than where it should end – success. Objective performance measurements are revealing. Public education is better at filling adult vanities and pockets than student minds.
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