Sam Blumenfeld (pictured), the author of N.E.A. Trojan Horse in American Education and a popular conference speaker, is a consultant for the Committee for the Privatization of Public Schools. TCC is pleased to have him, today, as a guest blogger.
Here's Dr. Sam, the quintessential 'big picture' thinker.
Improve Education and Reduce Property Taxes
Privatizing the Public Schools
It is now almost universally accepted by concerned Americans that our public schools are failing to produce a literate, well-educated younger generation.
Despite the fact that the American taxpayer spends more money on education than any other nation in history, we are getting less and less quality education for our money.
In April 1983, the National Commission on Excellence in Education reported:
“The educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a nation and as a people….If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands we have allowed this happen to ourselves.”
In other words, our educators have produced a mediocre education for our children. But they are the last to admit their responsibility.
And, of course, we all know about America’s reading problem, which the public first became aware of in 1955 when Rudolf Flesch wrote his famous book Why Johnny Can’t Read. In it, Flesch wrote:
“The teaching reading--all over the United States, in all of the schools, in all the textbooks--is totally wrong and flies in the face of all logic and common sense….Today the phonetic system of teaching reading is kept out of our schools as effectively as if we had a dictatorship with an all-powerful Ministry of Education.”
Has anything changed since 1955 in the public schools?
In November 2007, the National Endowment for the Arts issued an alarming report on America’s decline in literacy, Reading at Risk. It reported that the number of 17-year-olds who never read for pleasure increased from 9 percent in 1984 to 19 percent in 2004. Almost half of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 never read books for pleasure. The Endowment chairman, Dana Gioia stated: “This is a massive social problem. We are losing the majority of the new generation. They will not achieve anything close to their potential because of poor reading.”
Indeed, from Why Johnny Can’t Read in 1955 to the Commission’s devastating report in 1983 to the Endowment’s alarming report in 2007, the quality of education in our public schools has continued to decline. And there is no indication that the public schools know how to improve it, despite the more money they are able to extort from the taxpayer.
It is now quite obvious that the great experiment in free government-owned and controlled public education as a means of uplifting our nation and providing future generations with excellent academic skills has been a failure.
But there is a very viable way out from this dismal failure:
The privatization of the public schools in every town in America.
Private education is not new in America. In fact, it is a tradition that goes back to our very beginnings as a nation. Our founding fathers were well educated by every sort of private means available at the time. And the result was that early Americans were the most literate people on earth. The key to that high literacy was the need to be able to reading the Bible.
The U.S. Constitution makes no mention of education because it was considered a private affair, conducted by private schools and tutors, religious denominations and parents. And today we still have private schools for those who want quality education and are willing to pay for it. We have well-known private parochial schools. And now we have the growing phenomenon of home-schooling. And so we know how to achieve quality education. It’s no mystery.
In other words, every town in America with a public school system can change failure into success by simply privatizing these local institutions. By getting the government out of the education business, we shall be getting rid of the dictatorship of that Ministry of Education which Dr. Flesch wrote about.
In addition privatization will have enormous benefits for the community, its parents, its children, and its home-owners.
If you still believe that we live in a free country, then the privatization of the public schools should not only be possible but desirable.
Each public school can be converted into a private institution by the local town government.
Each school can become a private tax-exempt foundation governed by a board of trustees chosen by whatever means the town decides will produce the best results.
Each new private institution will be supported by tuition fees from parents whose children will attend the school. The tuition fees for students whose parents are too poor to pay the fee can be paid by a Town Foundation set up to take care of the poor who cannot pay tuition.
In other words, every child in the community will get a good private education, regardless of whether or not their parents can afford it.
The newly privatized schools will be able to raise additional funds by conducting fund-raising activities, such as sports events, dramatic performances, crafts, bake sales, alumni societies, etc. Donations will be tax-deductible.
Thus, a great tax burden will be lifted off the shoulders of the home-owner who must pay high real-estate taxes to finance the public schools. But when those schools are privatized, there will be no need for home-owners to carry the entire financial burden for the schools. That will certainly enhance property values in the community.
Privatization with restore control of the schools to the local communities so that they can adopt curriculums that work. All they have to do is examine the curriculums of successful private schools to find out what works best.
Privatization will lower the cost of education and improve its quality. No need for top-heavy administration personnel associated with government regulations.
Teachers will be hired as any private institution hires its personnel, on the basis of their qualifications.
The highly politicized teachers’ unions, such as the National Education Association, with their World Government, multicultural curriculum, will no longer be able to control the local schools.
Each privatized school can vie to become the best school in town.
That’s a great incentive to excel.
From a national point of view, by privatizing the public schools, America will embark on a new, exciting era of educational creativity and entrepreneurship, using all of the advanced technologies being developed by our high-tech economy.