Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Where Have I Seen This Story Before?


Myth: School don't have enough money
Jan 18, 2006by John Stossel ( bio archive )

"Stossel is an idiot who should be fired from ABC and sent back to elementary school to learn journalism." "Stossel is a right-wing extremist ideologue."

The hate mail is coming in to ABC over a TV special I did Friday (1/13). I suggested that public schools had plenty of money but were squandering it, because that's what government monopolies do.

Many such comments came in after the National Education Association (NEA) informed its members about the special and claimed that I have a "documented history of blatant antagonism toward public schools."

The NEA says public schools need more money. That's the refrain heard in politicians' speeches, ballot initiatives and maybe even in your child's own classroom. At a union demonstration, teachers carried signs that said schools will only improve "when the schools have all the money they need and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber."

Not enough money for education? It's a myth.

The truth is, public schools are rolling in money. If you divide the U.S. Department of Education's figure for total spending on K-12 education by the department's count of K-12 students, it works out to about $10,000 per student.

Think about that! For a class of 25 kids, that's $250,000 per classroom. This doesn't include capital costs. Couldn't you do much better than government schools with $250,000? You could hire several good teachers; I doubt you'd hire many bureaucrats. Government schools, like most monopolies, squander money.

America spends more on schooling than the vast majority of countries that outscore us on the international tests. But the bureaucrats still blame school failure on lack of funds, and demand more money.

In 1985, some of them got their wish. Kansas City, Mo., judge Russell Clark said the city's predominately black schools were not "halfway decent," and he ordered the government to spend billions more. Did the billions improve test scores? Did they hire better teachers, provide better books? Did the students learn anything?

Well, they learned how to waste lots of money.

The bureaucrats renovated school buildings, adding enormous gyms, an Olympic swimming pool, a robotics lab, TV studios, a zoo, a planetarium, and a wildlife sanctuary. They added intense instruction in foreign languages. They spent so much money that when they decided to bring more white kids to the city's schools, they didn't have to resort to busing. Instead, they paid for 120 taxis. Taxis!

What did spending billions more accomplish? The schools got worse. In 2000, five years and $2 billion later, the Kansas City school district failed 11 performance standards and lost its academic accreditation for the first time in the district's history.

A study by two professors at the Hoover Institution a few years ago compared public and Catholic schools in three of New York City's five boroughs. Parochial education outperformed the nation's largest school system "in every instance," they found -- and it did it at less than half the cost per student.

"Everyone has been conned -- you can give public schools all the money in America, and it will not be enough," says Ben Chavis, a former public school principal who now runs the American Indian Charter School in Oakland, Calif. His school spends thousands less per student than Oakland's government-run schools spend.

Chavis saves money by having students help clean the grounds and set up for lunch. "We don't have a full-time janitor," he told me. "We don't have security guards. We don't have computers. We don't have a cafeteria staff." Since Chavis took over four years ago, his school has gone from being among the worst middle schools in Oakland to the one where the kids get the best test scores. "I see my school as a business," he said. "And my students are the shareholders. And the families are the shareholders. I have to provide them with something."

Award-winning news correspondent John Stossel is co-anchor of ABC News "20/20" and author of "Give Me a Break."


At January 17, 2006 8:53 PM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

The problem with the NEA is that they think nobody can read -- and nobody can add 1 + 1 -- because they run the education system.

At January 18, 2006 8:59 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

The real solution to the public education crisis is to revoke collective bargaining -- by the members themselves -- recognizing that the reason teachers have no power to speak for themselves and educate the way they are capable, is because they surrendered their rights to the union spokesperson to speak and think exclusively for them. That’s why all the whining about education is coming virtually exclusively from those in the NEA -- and not the many others involved in education, most notably in Hawaii, the private schools.

It is generally claimed that the teachers go there because they have the better students -- even though they may get less pay negotiating for themselves individually as the market determines. Most people are there because they don’t want to put up with the horrendous bureaucratic-union conspiracy to make those jobs impossible and onerous. True teachers require those conditions of freedom and individual expression as a major component of their reward -- and not the stifling and suppression of their dignity as unique individuals the unions demand.

It is the unions that degrade the teachers and undermines their morale and confidence that they are worthwhile human beings capable of standing alone. Only in that manner, can they convince those college-educated people, that they “need” them -- to justify their own existence.

Anybody who’s been in a union knows that the union protects the least capable while punishing those who are so competent they threaten job security by eliminating and harassing the best and the brightest -- who can stand alone and distinguish themselves on their own merits. So all those people, once they receive the median income, can only derive greater distinction and respect differentiating themselves individually and not collectively.

Collective bargaining works as long as its members are receiving less than the median compensation; once they exceed those standards, they have to distinguish and merit themselves individually -- while the union is representing the worst among them as the typical union worker. That is an insult to any person of merit. If these so-called “professionals” can speak, think and negotiate for themselves, what good is the education they are teaching?

At January 18, 2006 9:03 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Correction to last sentence:

If these so-called “professionals” can't speak, think and negotiate for themselves, what good is the education they are teaching?

At January 18, 2006 9:08 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

It's not that the public doesn't give them any respect, it's they themselves that don't regard themselves with any respect -- and no amount of money can fill that deficinecy in their lives, that utter feeling of worthlessness the union convinces them is their lot in life.

Wake up people -- and overthrow your chains and masters that you have placed on yourselves!

At January 18, 2006 9:12 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

It is not President Bush, Governor Lingle or the citizens of Hawaii who has disgraced and dishonered you -- it is your unions and all those who exploit your own sense of worthlessness, fears and insecurities.

At January 18, 2006 9:15 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

And you DEMAND that the poor working people of Hawaii, most who make less than you do, should support you in the lavish lifestyles you fell you alone are entitled to.

That's you people don't get any respect.

At January 18, 2006 9:18 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

And you DEMAND that the poor working people of Hawaii, most who make less than you do, should support you in the lavish lifestyles you feel you alone are entitled to.

That's why you people don't get any respect. It's obvious to everybody else -- but maybe your union friends at the newspapers, floating in the same boat.

At January 18, 2006 9:25 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

I have the greatest respect for true teachers in the world -- to whom teaching is a calling and education.

But those who have made it the money-grubbing travesty it is all over the country (the NEA) have nothing to do with this noble calling and cause nothing but ridicule and disrepsect on their members.

You have the right to vote for your own freedom and dignity! They never tell you that, do they?

At January 18, 2006 9:30 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Union representation is not permanent and irrevocable.

Unions reached their zenith in the assmebly-line world of work.

But we've evolved to individualized and customized "creative" work -- in which the union model fails --because it imposes uniformity upon diversity, which is the greater value.

At January 18, 2006 9:42 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Of oucrse all this is even more relevant at the universities. If you people can't speak, think and represent yourselves, who can?

At January 18, 2006 9:53 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

You have nobody to blame but yourselves.

But why blame anybody at all? That's for children, demagogues and con-artists.

Grown-up and intelligent people just go ahead and solve problems -- as a manifestation of who they are, and what they are all about.

People yelling on megaphones demanding that they should be first in society -- is telling us what they are all about.

At January 19, 2006 4:52 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

Clearly, obviously, education is a government function that should be privatized -- as the only viable solution proven to work. We don’t see the headmaster of Iolani, Punahou, St. Louis, Maryknoll, La Pietra, homeschoolers, appearing in the newspapers daily telling us the only solution for education is to pour all the money the legislators can get away with -- into the bottomless hole that has become public education run by the bureaucrats and the unions. And next year, they’ll be back for more because the situation has gotten even worse. That’s not a solution; that is the problem.

Rather than figure out all kinds of meaningless, feel-good, something-for-nothing, let’s make the tourists and the federal government pay for them projects, so they can proclaim that “we’re high-tech too” because they’re hard at work passing out free lunches at the Capitol and reinventing the wheel, they need to get at the root of the problems in society as institutionalized by the public schools.

Endless money that makes the problems worse -- so they can create more high-paying government jobs because we have to pay more to get less, until they finally reach the point in which the highest value in society is to get something for nothing. Government should represent something more than that -- or nothing might be better. Why do we need to create more problems just so the newspapers have something to write about. Certainly there are a lot of positive things happening in the world they could retrain their writers to be able to detect and report.

The news (information) that is valuable, is that in which we can use to avoid a disaster -- and not learning about them after it is too late. Or that they’re going to show up at the fire bringing extra gasoline -- which is what all their propaganda for the failing school solution does. Next thing we know, they’ll be proposing a rail solution that doesn’t solve any traffic problem -- so that they can come up with an even more expensive solution in the future -- ensuring high-paying job-security for government workers as far as the eye can see.

That’s not the solution -- that is the problem. People then get vested in the problem -- and make it worse, as their only solution, the only thing they know how to do anymore. And then they hold public forums in praise of themselves.

At January 19, 2006 5:43 AM, Blogger Mike Hu said...

I’m sure the letters editors of the two newspapers are chock-full with the latest NEA (HSTA) letter writing campaign by their friends and relatives informing us that in a politically correct and enlightened society, teachers (government workers) should be the highest paid people in society -- because tof he monumental sacrifices they made to educate themselves so they could be the highest paid members of society.


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