July 18, 2012

Public Education, Another Perspective

Having followed some of the published discourse concerning our public educational system and its governance in Fauquier County, I have decided to offer a totally different point of view.

Nationally, public school expenditure per pupil in 2007-2008 averaged about $10,400. In Fauquier County, the 2011 budget was about $11,000 per pupil.

What do you suppose would happen if the parent of every school-aged child received a coupon for $10,400 per child that could only be redeemed by an accredited educational establishment?

I am convinced that the primary focus of the educational system should and must be on providing our children the intellectual capabilities they will need to excel in the world they are going to spend the major portion of their lives inhabiting. While I believe music and sports enhance the educational experience for all participating students, I suspect neither has a significant impact on most people's career satisfaction a decade after graduation.

Most of our public education system is failing our children. According to a Cato Institute review, school employment has grown 11 times faster than student enrollment since 1970. The results of this growth, as determined by five testing groups (NAEP, IEA, YALS, NALS, IALS); "Student achievement has stagnated or fallen in most subjects, with the largest and most thoroughly established decline occurring in basic literacy".

Privatizing the huge public education bureaucracy could give the new generations of Americans the opportunity to get the education they need to live rich and fulfilling lives. Or we can keep throwing more and more money at the public schools and get more and more of the same dismal results.

The problem is not a lack of funding and it's not the teachers; the problem is endemic of all large bureaucracies, the lack of motivation of the majority of managers to serve the interests of their customers ahead of their own.

Will privatizing education have challenges? Certainly, transportation, extra-curricular activities, and others to be sure, but the American entrepreneurial spirit can and will solve any and all problems as it has done in numerous other private endeavors in our great nation.

Rex A. Hoover