I’m surprised to learn that people actually know that government-run education is failing.
The Hoover Institution has a new survey on American views on education. Harvard professor and Hoover Institution Fellow Paul Peterson has the details:
Public assessment of schools has fallen to the lowest level recorded since Americans were first asked to grade schools in 1981. Just 18% of those surveyed gave schools a grade of an A or a B, down from 30% reported by a Gallup poll as recently as 2005. No less than 25% of those polled by Education Next gave the schools either an F or a D. (In 2005, only 20% gave schools such low marks.) ...
When asked how American 15-year-olds compare in math with students in 29 other industrialized nations, the public did not fool itself into believing that the U.S. is among the top five countries in the world. Those polled ranked the U.S. at No. 17, just a bit higher than the No. 24 spot the country actually holds.
It’s good that people know the system is not working, but sadly, few realize just how much money the government squanders on failure.
Those polled by Education Next estimated that schools in their own districts spend a little more than $4,000 per pupil, on average. In fact, schools in those districts spend an average of $10,000...
The public also dramatically underestimates the amount teachers in their state are being paid. The average guess in 2007 was around $33,000—well below actual average salary of $47,000 across all states.
Imagine what you could do with $10,000 - that's $200,000 for 20 kids. You could hire several excellent teachers for that, and you wouldn't be lacking basic supplies like textbooks.
But unions have set up a system where good teaching is not rewarded. Even teachers who are dangerous to students can't be fired -- they sit in "rubber rooms" for years, at full pay.
Peterson concludes, correctly:
Over $100 billion of the stimulus package went to K-12 education, doubling the federal contribution to school spending. A powerful public-school lobby will fight fiercely to keep federal aid to education at these historic highs. President Obama could head off such deficit-driving pressures by sharing accurate information about how much students learn, how much schools spend, and how much teachers are paid.
The president didn't hesitate to tell American kids to take responsibility for their behavior. It's time he delivered that same message to states, school districts and unions.
- Pre-October 2009