By Mimi Rothschild
In a recent series of articles, Jonah Goldberg of The National Review Online and David Gelernter of The Weekly Standard both propose that America might be better off without public schools and discuss how we might decide whether to have them or not. Both writers cite public school’s well documented shortcomings.
“Americans want universal education, just as they want universally safe food. But nobody believes that the government should run 90 percent of the restaurants, farms, and supermarkets. Why should it run 90 percent of the schools — particularly when it gets terrible results?” says Goldberg.
Why not liberate all the vast resources we spend on public schools to be re-channeled to private schools chosen by the nation’s parents? Any public school offering an education that parents will actually pay for (of their own free will) would presumably be replaced by a private school offering essentially the same thing. But a vast array of new private schools would germinate also. And a vast number of failed public schools would disappear.
“In the system I am picturing, education would continue to be free and accessible to every child, and all taxpayers would continue to pay for it. Parents would be guaranteed access to ‘reasonable’ schools that cost them nothing beyond what they pay in taxes. It would all be just like today–except that public schools would have vanished” says David Gelertner.
“Many sources agree that, on the whole, American public schools are rotten. In 2000, a whopping 12 percent of graduating seniors were rated ‘proficient’ in science, and international surveys rank our graduating seniors 19th overall out of 21 nations. In 2002, the Washington Post summarized a different survey: ‘Nearly six in 10 of the nation’s high school seniors lack even a basic knowledge of U.S. history,'” says Gelerneter.
The article raises the question if private entities would be capable of providing enough new schools to replace existing public ones? Can America’s private organizations build enough hospitals to care for it’s sick, enough nursery schools to teach its very young and enough grocery stores to feed it’s population. Of course! Will these privately run schools be good enough? They would have to be or no one would attend them and they would go out of business. Competition among the newly formed schools would force them to give the public the best product at the lowest price, just like every other business in this country.
Home schooling has received some positive press lately and it may be due to the fact that the media has begun to expose the inadequacies of the public school system. It is frightening to think that entire generations of Americans aren’t being properly educated.
Home schooling offers world-class educations to millions of American students, but unfortunately homeschoolers are still in the minority right now.
Read David Gelernter’s article: A World Without Public Schools.
To read Jonah Goldberg’s article: Public Ed 101.