Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at intelligent and rational individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

"Observe that the 'haves' are those who have freedom, and that it is freedom that the 'have-nots' have not." Ayn Rand

"The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not 'selflessness' or 'sacrifice', but integrity." Ayn Rand

12 April 2010

The Public School Scandal

I have stated over and over that our biggest problem in the fight for the equal, sovereign, and unalienable rights of the individual to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in the United States of America is the fact that the education of our young is controlled by government.  Government at the local, state, and federal levels always has a conflict of interest in education.  American children need an education in which a cornerstone of their knowledge is knowing that legitimate government, as stated in our Declaration of Independence, is that government which governs with the consent of the governed for the purpose of securing their individual rights.  They need to understand that the purpose of the Constitution was to insure that the federal government had very limited powers dedicated to the purpose of securing individual rights and nothing more.  To understand how important this is, students need a knowledge of the history of great numbers of governments which oppressed the People.  They need a realistic knowledge of the Capitalist system with its free markets for goods, services, and ideas and how that system serves every unique individual by allowing them many, many choices and an easy path to forming many voluntary associations with others for specialized purposes of their own.  They need to understand that socialism cannot accommodate individual rights, cannot recognize the individuality and uniqueness of each of us, and cannot allow us to develop and express ourselves as the individuals we are.  Students need to understand that a Capitalist, free market society offers a richness of life no other system can offer.  Yet, all governments inevitably want to grow and want to feel needed in far more ways than the protection of our individual rights.  And frankly, many politicians hunger for power and learn how to use special interest groups to help them attain it.  Hence, government has a fundamental conflict-of-interest when it is put in charge of running our education system.

Yet, in America, as in most countries, government is in charge of the education of our young.  We know that the quality of government-run education in many other fields than history and civics is also very disappointing.  The governments that run the welfare system, the DMVs, job licensing, metro transportation systems, regulate health insurance and electricity rates, and much else equally poorly, do not do much better with education.  In many cases, they also spend far more money on education than they tell us they spend on it as I reported in this post on Washington, D.C. public schools.  According to a study released on 10 March 2010 by Adam Schaeffer with the Cato Institute's Center for Educational Freedom entitled They Spend WHAT? The Real Cost of Public Schools, this problem of under-reporting the real cost of public school educational expenses is very widespread.  He examines the reported spending and the real spending per pupil for six metropolitan regions, including the five largest for K-12 public schools.  He also compares the cost of the K-12 public schools to an estimate of the cost for private schools in that metropolitan area.  The results are very enlightening and offer a sound reason for hope that we can convince the People that government-run education is a very bad deal indeed.

The Cato Institute report compiled public school K-12 costs for the central city school district, for the highest income adjacent school district and for the lowest income adjacent school district.  I have complied a table to condense the most important of the results found by Adam Schaeffer in the following table:

The public school districts under-reported the true cost of public education per pupil anywhere from 3% to 151%.  Only the low-income North Chicago school district did a faithful job of reporting their real expenditures, though the low-income district in the Phoenix area of Deer Valley at 13% and the low-income district in the Washington, D.C. area of Prince George's County at 17% were much more accurate than most in their reporting.  Los Angeles city school district was the worst: they spent more than 2.5 times as much as they claimed to spend per pupil!  The other districts spent between 22 and 85% more than they reported spending.  It turns out that many voters when told about the difference in real spending from what they thought was being spent per student were very upset.  They indicated that they were not willing be taxed so much as they were for the purpose of spending so much.

Equally interesting as the great deception of the People about the amount spent on public education, is the fact that the public education is clearly no bargain compared to private education.  The public school districts spent between 21% and 201% more than the local private schools!  In 8 out of the 18 public school districts examined, the public schools spent more than 100% more than (twice as much) did the local private schools per pupil.  Only the Houston school districts and the low-income school districts of Phoenix, Los  Angeles, and Washington, D.C., were less than 50% more expensive than the local private schools and all but one of them was one-third or more higher in costs.

Now, I am pretty sure that these private schools are generally offering as good or better educations than the public schools.  I am very sure that if they spent as much as the public schools do per pupil, most private schools would offer a substantially better education.  It would seem very clear that the taxpayers in many of these examined school systems could be convinced that a voucher system that allowed them to send their children to a private school instead of the public school money-eater would be preferable both for providing their children a better education and to save the local tax district a huge amount of money, as they shut down more and more of their schools.  Indeed, even the taxpayers with no children to educate would clearly be better off.

Some will argue that many of the private schools are associated with religious groups.  Indeed, in a country in which the taxpayer has to pay for these very expensive public schools and then has to shell out a substantial amount of money for a private school, there is likely to be another motivation of the effort and commitment, such as a strong belief of some kind.  But, if public policy allows a healthy voucher system, the market for private schools will expand greatly.  Many secular schools will be established, as will be schools with strong arts programs or strong science programs.  The competition to provide good educations at reasonable prices will produce many more good schools that people can afford more readily than the bloated socialist holding cells we call schools today.

So, when the topic of public education comes up in your school district, do not feel bashful about informing your conversant that public schools are ridiculously expensive and provide a poor education compared to what a private school can and will provide.  Let's get the People to demand a shift from government-run schools to private schools, where the parents will once again have a say in the education of their children and the taxpayers will have some relief.  The public schools are just one more case of the gullible being taken for a ride by government.


Daniel said...

According to Jordan Maxwell, that what the government wanted in our school system. They do not want to educate your children but indoctrinate them. His quote could be heard in the Zietgeist film

Charles R. Anderson, Ph.D. said...

I was not familiar with Jordan Maxwell, so I Googled him. The main person with that name who came up has a website in which he introduces himself as:

"Jordan Maxwell continues as a preeminent researcher and speaker in the fields of secret societies, occult philosophies, and ufology since 1959. His work is not only fascinating to explore, but too important to ignore."

I had to look at that word "ufology" for a moment before I even figured out what it meant. That makes it clear that the primary interests of this Jordan Maxwell are not in registry with my own interests. Given his interests, I am wondering if his understanding of how the government-run schools are indoctrinating our children is a close parallel to my understanding or not.