Set Our Children Free
 
Suppose you went to eat at a strange restaurant and, upon asking the waitress what was good on the menu, she told you that she didn’t know because she never ate there.  When you ask why, she explains that the food and atmosphere are much better at her favorite place, and even though the food costs more, it’s worth it.  You would naturally attribute a great deal of credibility to this waitress because she was honest enough to point you away from the place where she has a personal stake in its success.  In other words, you would trust her word more than another employee, because she is working against her own interest by recommending you go elsewhere to eat.

The debate about public vs. private schools is similar to the restaurant analogy.  According to a study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, public school teachers are almost twice as likely (1 in 5 overall) as other parents to choose private schools for their own children.  You know there’s something wrong when those who know the public school system best, and have a vested financial interest in keeping their own kids there, send them to private schools instead.  The figure would actually be higher if many of these same teachers could afford private schools, as the study showed that the lower the teacher’s salary, the less likely they were to choose private schools.  In many cities, one third to one half of public school teachers chose private schools for their kids.  I’ve taught in public schools, and trust me, no teacher I know would be surprised at these statistics.  And this study was done eight years ago.  Does anyone think our schools have gotten better since then?

The question is why?  Well, just like the restaurant analogy, the top three reasons given for the switch to private schools were:  1) higher academic achievement, 2) greater discipline, and 3) better atmosphere.  The two largest teachers’ unions, the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), declined to comment on the report, thus lending a great deal of credibility to it.  I mean, what can you say when a substantial number of your own employees don’t believe in how you run your business?  Kind of reminds you of that Pepsi commercial where the Coke delivery guy keeps getting caught drinking Pepsi.

The unions’ response to failing schools, along with their allies in the Democrat party and the rest of the government educational establishment, has been to fight school choice tooth and nail.  In Louisiana, they have gone so far as to threaten private schools who accept vouchers.  School choice is an idea whose time has finally come.  Unfortunately, it came at a steep price - several generations of young people whose education was sacrificed at the altar of governmental monopoly.  And the battle has just begun.  We look back and wonder how we ever let our education bureaucrats take our money and give us no choice in how they spend it to educate our kids.  It happened at a time in our history when we trusted government to be responsive to we, the people, and make the right decisions.  That time has passed.  The government’s own employees’ choices have told us all we need to know.

 


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