It has been a consistent theme on the left and in the media (but I repeat myself) that Conservatives want to be able to dictate behavior to the population as a whole while Liberals advocate freedom of choice. Like the idea of media bias held by the right, this meme has gained traction. But is it really true?
The short answer, of course, is ‘not even close.’ As with my media bias post though, I’ll address the data.
Democrats do not believe in freedom of choice when it comes to educating our children. Their arguments are not based in fact, but in emotion. The problem with emotive reasoning is that it doesn’t work. Schools exist to educate our children – period.
Since 1971, educational spending in the United states has more than doubled, from $4,300 per student to more than $9,000 per student, adjusted for inflation. Over the same time frame, the American student’s achievement scores have plateaued. Clearly, the answer isn’t money.
Part of the problem is teacher’s unions. Whereas factory-based unions exist (on paper, anyway) to protect employees from evil corporations who seek profit. Public education is, by definition, non-profit. There is no evil CEO or corporation to demonize. Teachers unions will not allow anyone to be treated differently under any circumstances. Therefore, increasing the pay of excellent teachers or re-training or firing poor teachers is not a topic that can even be discussed. Once in the system, teachers have the equivalent of a life-time appointment.
The real problem though, is a lack of competition – a lack of choice. Vouchers would allow schools to compete for students – and by extension – money. The concept of competition in education increasing results has already been proven. When the National Assessment of Educational Progress compared private school test scores to those of public schools, private school students scored, on average, 14 points higher than their public school counterparts.
Vouchers also help level the playing field from a socio-economic standpoint. Parents who can not afford to live in Falls Church, Virginia (the nation’s richest county) would not be forced – as a function of not being fabulously wealthy – to send their children to mediocre schools. A child’s future would not be sacrificed simply because their parents were not rich. Don’t the liberals always tell us to do things ‘for the children’? Why, then, do they refuse to even entertain the idea of vouchers? Cross education off your list of things you get to choose.