Sunday, September 23, 2007

More from Stossel's Book

I have almost finished Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity, and had marked a couple spots in the chapter on "Stupid Schools" that I mentioned in an earlier post. On page 115, he discusses the myth that "public schools are underfunded," and instead says they "have lots of money." He says that in 2004,

America spent 454 billion dollars on the military (including the war in Iraq) but 536 billion dollars on public schools. . . America spends more on schooling than the vast majority of countries that outscore us on the international tests."
He lists a source for his defense and education spending information in the endnotes: Congressional Budget Office, "The Budget and Economic Outlook: Fiscal Years 2006-2015," 2005, There's also a reference for the info on American education spending vs. other countries: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, "Education at a Glance 2005," 2005.

Then on page 123, he discusses accountability. The myth is that "public school officials will experiment to help kids," and the truth, he says, is that "public schools officials resist any change." In this section, he is speaking to the South Carolina state school superintendent, Inez Tenenbaum. She doesn't like the idea of school choice, such as vouchers or other ideas, because they are "unproven." She claims that "you do not have the same kind of accountability in private schools that you have in public schools." Stossel writes,

Accountability? The head of a government monopoly has the nerve to talk about accountability? Accountability is why private schools perform better. Every day they are held accountable by parents, and if they fail the kids, the school administrators lose their jobs.

Government schools are accountable only to politicians. It's why almost no school is ever closed, no matter how bad it is. No one loses his job when the kids fail.

He even has a section dispelling the myth that homeschoolers "are religious wackos whose children don't learn to socialize." He says instead, "Homeschooling is a good option for some parents fed up with lousy government schools. Homeschooled kids do well."

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