In an exclusive interview with Cato Institute’s Andrew Coulson, I asked how government spending could skyrocket as shown by the chart, while performance scores have declined over the same period of time. How is it that schools can afford to hire lunch inspectors to snoop in kids lunch bags as they did earlier this week, teach the gay agenda to 4th graders, and hire Islamic Jihadist organizations like Hamas to write textbooks and teach in our classes? Yet they cannot seem to teach basic English, math and science. Andrew Coulson who has written scores of scholarly works on educational effectiveness for Cato, appeared on national television, and testified before Congress provides some well documented answers.
Coulson mapped Federal spending per pupil since 1970, and mapped it against reading, math and science scores. Federal spending topped $80 Billion in 2011, while total spending (state and Federal) topped an astonishing $600 Billion. Yet during that same time period, math and science scores remained flat, and reading scores actually declined by 25%! Math and science may not have declined, but a McKinsey study places American students in the bottom 1/3 of developed nations in math and science scores.
A recent report covered in The Report Card earlier this week showed that 1/3 of 4th graders were reading below basic levels
I asked Coulson how it was possible for so much money to be spent with such a poor result. In any private enterprise such remarkable failure over such a long period of time would never be tolerated. Management would be replaced, and/or the business would be shut down.
Coulson said: “Education is exempt from the marketplace because it is a public monopoly. Public education, unlike free enterprise, relies upon central planning, but if the customer doesn’t like what they’re getting, they are unable to switch.”
Coulson even questions whether public schools performed better in the first half of the 20th century. “Discipline may have been better, but productivity was not increasing.” When asked about how some public schools seemed to be better than others, Couslon said: “If you ask Sumo wrestlers to run a sprint, some will be faster than others, but none of them are really fast.” Coulson believes that the non-competitive nature of public schools, the special interest of the educational bureaucracy, and teacher’s union demands have driven costs, not learning.
Couslon, in testimony to Congress, stated that public school employment has grown a whopping 10X faster than the school population. Teacher’s unions have now control over 80% of the school workforce. Union members are required to pay dues to the unions, and the unions use this money to buy political power. Coulson says that teacher’s unions spend more money on political clout than Big Oil, and the NRA combined.
So who is doing a good job educating America’s children? Coulson says that Catholic school spend 1/3 less and do a far superior job in educating America’s kids because they offer a strong value system, and understand that they must please parents, and teach kids.
What does Coulson think is the solution to the perennial failure of the public school system? Coulson says that the education tax credit, permitting parents to take a full public school tax credit and apply it to the school of their choice is gaining traction and in place in Florida, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Rhode Island, Iowa, Illinois, and Arizona. Coulson says: “The tax credit is not well known but results are impressive. The poor are not left out because corporations can donate to private schools to permit poor to attend and take a full credit on their taxes.”
More on the tax credit in future issues.