Earlier this week a news story came along that gave me another opportunity to do one of my favorite things — rant against government schools. If parents understood the damage that has been done to our republic through government control of education things might change. Big “if.” The story told us of some real angry housewives of Atlanta who are upset with the Fulton County Board of Education changing school attendance maps. These dedicated moms were screaming about their children being moved from one school to another and separated from their friends. Yeah, I know. You’ve heard this before.
Sorry, ladies, but just what did you expect after you abandoned your parental responsibilities by subjecting your children to these hideous government indoctrination centers we insist on calling “schools.” You blissfully glide along year after year believing that your child is actually being educated, and then suddenly you start spinning around on your eyebrows when the government determines that they will be sent to a different school than the one they attended last year? Grade inflation doesn’t bother you? How about cheating scandals? But change your child’s school and it’s the end of the world?
The first question is why are your children in a government school to begin with? Hopefully you aren’t one of those parents who realizes that most government schools are terrible, but believes that the particular school your child attends is so far above the rest that neither you nor your child has anything to worry about. Do you really believe that? Or do you just WANT to believe that?
So now your child is going to have to attend a strange school next year, and you’re upset. Pardon me for asking, but just how many letters have you written to your elected leaders asking for school choice? How many groups do you belong to that promote school choice? How many times have you spoken to your friends and business associates about school choice and vouchers that allow parents to choose which schools their children will attend? My guess is that your answers to these questions are none, none and never — or maybe just, “Huh?” But now you are whining because the government to which you surrendered your children without complaint has changed your child’s school.
Cry me a river.
Here’s a basic difference between American government schools and the schools you find in many places in Europe (where, by the way, they do a much better job): Here the child follows the money. There the money follows the child. Let me explain.
In many European countries, as here, you pay your school taxes. The bureaucrats then decide how much will be spent to educate each child. In America the bureaucrats send the money to a specific school and tell you that’s where your child must go. Across the pond the bureaucrats wait until the parent has decided on a school, based on whatever criteria is important to the parent, and then send the money chasing after the child. It’s called school choice. Perhaps you’ve heard that phrase before. Teachers’ unions have, and they hate it. They don’t want to have to compete for the money you’ve paid for your child’s education. You, however, SHOULD want to them to compete. Competition breeds innovation and excellence — two concepts foreign to today’s government schools.
Why my dislike of government schools? The type of electorate that can put a President Barack Obama into the White House had to come from somewhere. The common denominator is government education. As Thomas Sowell has written, our schools produce people with “neither the skills to be economically productive nor the intellectual development to make them discerning citizens and voters.”
But for some parents it’s all about where they go, not what they learn.