Educational Competition Now
In his column this morning, John Stossel declares that Schools Need Competition Now. Stossel points out that competition in the market place gives consumers enormous power as they "say no to one business and yes to another".
Former president of the American Federation of Teachers, the late Albert Shanker said,
It's time to admit that the public education system operates like a planned economy, a bureaucratic system in which everybody's role is spelled out in advance and there are few incentives for innovation and productivity. It's no surprise that our school system doesn't improve. It more resembles the communist economy than our own market economy.Bottom line: monopolies rarely produce better results than competition does.
Delaware is one state that has allowed some real competition. Two of its top high schools are the Charter School of Wilmington, a math and science focused school which in past years has had three times as many applicants as seats available, and Cab Calloway School of the Arts. Additionally, Delaware seems to have a disproportionate number of private schools for its size.
Furthermore, many families in the nation have become so disenchanted with government schools that they have decided to take matters into their own hands. They have committed to educating their children themselves at home (or in co-ops, in the car, at museums, at historical sites, at libraries...you get the picture). Delaware itself has quite a large homeschool community in which families support each others’ efforts to train their children to excel both educationally and morally.
Stossel himself remarked extensively about the homeschool movement:
It is indeed profound that so many parents have become so aggravated with their local schools that after paying taxes to support them, they still shell out beaucoup bucks to place their children in private schools. Others make still huger sacrifices by laying aside careers to appropriate a lifestyle of homeschooling to ensure their children's academic and moral success.
The monopoly fails so many kids that more than a million parents now make big
sacrifices to homeschool their kids. Two percent of school-aged kids are homeschooled now. If parents weren't taxed to pay for lousy government schools,
more might teach their kids at home.
Some parents choose to homeschool for religious reasons, but homeschooling has been increasing by 10 percent a year because so many parents are just fed up with the government's schools. Homeschooled students blow past their public-school counterparts in terms of achievement.
Brian Ray, who taught in both public and private schools before becoming president of the National Home Education Research Institute, says, "In study after study, children who learn at home consistently score 15-30 percentile points above the national averages," he says. Homeschooled kids also score almost 10 percent higher than the average American high school student on the ACT.
As people are already voting with their money and their time, maybe the government should take the hint. Maybe it is indeed time to allow more competition in the educational arena.