By Nathan Barton
As we read, day after day, how public (government-run, tax-funded) schools spiral downhill more and more rapidly here in the Fifty States, we find that the alternatives are alive, well, and growing more and more important. Around the world.
A recent indicator of this, from the Third World, is a TED talk given in Glasgow not long ago. Pauline Dixon explains how private schools are serving the poorest of the poor in those regions of the world. And how it is private, FOR profit, schools, not charity or religious schools, that are doing this.
She challenged and defeats the “common wisdom” which we hear right here in the FIfty States:
First, that private schools serve the privileged and everyone else (especially the poor) need public schools.
Second, that low-cost private schools – those that serve the poor – must be of lower quality than those provided as “public” using tax money and run by governments.
What studies in India, Nigeria, Ghana and elsewhere revealed is that 60-80% of the children in slum areas were attending private schools and NOT government schools: the vast majority of those children in low-cost, private, for-profit schools. Many of these are very large, if unrecognized (not government licensed) schools. Below the radar. There were no doubt many other, smaller ones, which were unknown except to parents and the students. And we are talking about hundreds of thousands of children.
And this has been going on for years. It is clear that the children who went to these schools in the past are now the ones building their home economies and pulling themselves out of poverty together with their communities and even nations. Without the help of the West, without the “help” of local corrupt educrats and politicians, and without the help of charity organizations or even religious organizations in their communities.
It seems that in these poor, slum communities in these poor, backward countries of Africa and Asia, private education for the poor – the very poor – forms a majority of the provision of education for the poor families. Meanwhile, the official government figures drastically underestimate enrollment of children in ANY kind of school, out of their own self-serving need to demonstrate that “education for all” is being achieved and will continue to happen ONLY through more government control and more government funding.
Does that now not sound very much like what we have Stateside?
Especially that second quite wrong assumption. According to the studies and surveys, the private schools – low-cost or not – are BETTER quality than the GRTF schools. Why? Parents think it is because they are paying for a service, and therefore can hold the teachers and head teachers accountable. And the tests and survey scores demonstrate that is the case. Private schools, low-cost, for-profit, private schools are out-performing the government schools.
Why? Corruption. Government control. Less accountability to parents. Less concern about results of teaching (not passing tests or punching tickets).
And at a cost that the poor can afford, even though the teachers in private schools are also “poor” (averaging about 1/3 of the pay earned by public school teachers).
Now, consider our situation here in the Fifty States. We constantly throw more and more money – mostly in the form of more pay for teachers and administrators, and more (fancy) schools being built with that money – and more NON-education services (sports, counseling, medical, food, etc.) paid for with those increased taxes.
And we find that GRTF schools have and allow and want LESS and LESS accountability to parents. In fact, they fight against ANY sort of parental meddling. At the same time as they teach more and more things that parents do NOT want to have their children taught: especially in the “modern” age of diversity and sexual license and total acceptance of government. We are seeing, year by year, the declining quality of public education right here in the Fifty States: not just in the urban slums and ghettos and the massive urban prison-system like schools, but in the suburban and rural and frontier schools as well.
It is a combination of factors, including the brainwashing and extremely low-quality education given to young teachers in the Fifty States today. The corruption that comes with funding – using money stolen from taxpayers and the future. The micromanagement by politicians and bureaucrats, including those embedded in the system (the educrats and administrators). All aided and abetted by a complete lack of accountability to parents and even to the students themselves.
A common argument against home-schooling and private schooling Stateside today is that the parents are too ill-educated and uninformed and uncaring to properly ensure that their children are educated. So someone has to do it for them. But those now doing it: the 20-30 year old teachers and 30-40 year old administrators, are products of the same environment that produced the “ignoramuses” that the parents are supposed to be!
The truth of the matter is, that even as was the case with ill-educated immigrant parents of the 1800s and early 1900s, the parents know enough to want to see their children learn more and better than they did. Parents ARE capable of choosing wisely for their children.
It also shows that if in these third-world “pestholes” this kind of de facto (and often illegal) privatization of education is going on and working, that such is probably going on right here. Even with truancy laws and all the other government mandates and nannies wondering around. But it could be going far more quickly, if people will just say that enough is enough.
Most important, it shows that fees, profit and competition play a VERY central role in good education: in accountability, in innovation, and in efficiency. And can do it WITHOUT government control and direction and money.
The amazing thing is that the ridiculous American education system lasted as long and did as well as it had, despite the ever-growing burden of bureaucrats, regulations, and political correctness. But things will not improve until we reject all of that.