Friday, September 02, 2005

Private -vs- Public Education

This is part of the series of Why Public Education? (This is not a "bashing" of the public schools but a look at the variety of arguments made for its necessity.)

One of the common thoughts is that a public education is superior to private control especially for the poorest among us. Expat continues to talk about the need for a public education for that purpose. Here are some of my thoughts on what he said,
'Base on the stark realities it is impossible to get a better quality education for everyone. Captialism creates winners and losers."
All systems to some degree create winners and losers. It is a matter of who PICKS the winners and losers. In a free society, parents and the children have the most control over whether they are a winner or a loser. Thus, it is parental rights and individual freedom that survives.

In a public school the state controls the winners and losers (based on curriculum and testing) and the parents and children are forced to work within the parameters set by the state and its schools. (All using the parents money through taxation.) Thus the state has the largest control and parental rights and individual freedom is worn away.

"Under a capitalistic system some schools would improve, but overlooks that some would be worse off than they are now"
True enough. But under a free market system those schools that are worse would eventually die off rather than be continue. (None of us laments the loss of the horse and buggy!) As parents are given the freedom to choose the school they will not be forced to stay in these schools because of compulsory attendance or financial contraints imposed by taxation. They will have other choices to consider. Perhaps not the elite school but certainly one better than the current poor one.

Considering vouchers, expat, cited the failure of the Milwaukee School System,

Of the 106 voucher schools visited, "there were about 10 to 15 schools where professionalism appeared lacking, facilities were not good, and the overall operation appeared alarming when it came to the basic matter of educating children." Got that? If 10 of 106 were alarming, that is a nearly 10% failure rate!
Vouchers are not the same as the free market so it is difficult to compare. The vouchers are still government controlled. Who gets a voucher and what schools are allowed to participate is subject to the government. Furthermore, it is not free market because the parent is paying first to the state and having the state give it back to them. Eliminate the state. I don't pay the government to then give me a voucher for groceries for my chilren, why should I do so for education. The current voucher system is ripe for corruption and failure.
"Remember that these schools aren't making cars, butter or widgets. They are working with children that get one shot at an education. A failing (public or private) school damages a child for life."
That is correct but who has the compelling interest in the child? Consitutionally and according to the laws of nature and natures God it is the parent who has the highest interest of the child. However, the state has usurped that control through taxation, compulsory education, and testing. If the child suffers let it be because the parent failed. God and society have remedies for that (or atleast they used to before the state took that over too!). But if a child suffers at the hand of a poor state education there is no remedy. (Can a parent or child sue the state or teacher for failure in spelling or math?) And that is the current situation. Educational neglect is not abuse and therefore not illegal except in the area of compulsory attendance. But compulsory attendance does not guarantee against educational neglect. And if neglect were illegal the prisons would have a whole lot of parents AND teachers behind bars.

Based on the laws of capitalism, it ALWAYS produces losers. A private educational system will do that, too. Yet, a public sector education can have universal success (like our interstate system - for example).

Bill Gate's children's school district is universally successful.

A public school system cannot have universal success. Because unlike highways, we have a personal will. (I live in MI where the success of the interstate is a debate for another day!) And despite even the best private schools we still have failures because of free will. Bill Gate's school is NOT universally successful. That they may be above average on stanardized tests, is not a determmination of a successfully educated child.

They may create functioning citizens but they are not universally successful. Furthermore, if this were true that there would be no divorce amongst the graduates, no alcoholism, no unwed pregnancy, and no suicide, or unemployed. They would be producing a hybrid human. And clearly that is not true. A state standardized score or graduation rate does not tell us how successful an education was. That is born out over time in the life of the child.

For a teacher or anyone to accept a test or college acceptance as a measure of success is worrisome to me. As it should be to all. There are many who fail a state test and never go to college who are far more successful than those attain them. Bill Gates is not even a college grad. At a certain point in his life I am sure other thought him "unsuccessful" because of his lack of a degree. (Especially when his office was in a garage!) I, on the other hand, have a college degree in Computer Science and would have been considered to be "successful" around that same time. Yet, I have little success to show for it from a "social" perspective atleast compared to Bill Gates. (Thankfully, I don't measure success in that way!)
"Only public schools can ensure equal opportunity for all."
False. If this were true why hasn't it happened in over 100 years. Surely, it can't be that more time is necessary. Since their inception, schools have declined not gotten better. Time is not proving to be the schools friend.

"The private sector limits social mobility."
Social mobility is limited by a variety of factors -Education among them. However, it is who most controls that mobility, the state or the individual, that is an issue. I believe that the laws of natture, God along with our Consitution provide that the control rests with the parent.

Lastly, referring to perpetuating the status quo in education he concludes,

"America is beter than that"
I agree, and when America's citizens are allowed to be free they are better than that. When they are controlled by the state we become a product of the state and the citizens suffer. If America is failing in education it is because public education has failed Americans.

No comments: