Simply put, I favor school vouchers and the funding of "core" competencies.
I believe both Democrats and Republicans agree that our education system has problems and needs to be fixed. Where Democrats and Republicans disagree, is how we fix the problem? Right now, America spends more on education, per student, than any other country in the world, with a national average of $10,000 per student. The next closest country in per capita education expenditure is the United Kingdom, which spends about $8,500 per student. To put this in perspective a bit more, the total taxpayer investment in K-12 education in the United States for the 2004-05 school year is estimated to be $536 billion. Even in this current time of the war against terror, taxpayer investment in education exceeds that for national defense, which was $420.7 billion. Dispelling the myth that we spend more on bombers than books as some Democrats would have you believe.
To add insult to injury, even with all that money we're spending, our kids are falling behind their peers in other countries. An international math exam (math being universal to all languages) given to eighth graders world wide was telling. Despite the highest spending in the world, American eighth graders ranked 19th out of 38 countries. We also were ranked poorly in science internationally, at18th out of 38 countries. In math, Taiwan was highest followed by Korea, Russia and Switzerland. In science, another easily comparable international standard, South Korea edged out Taiwan for the top spot. South Korea and Taiwan spend a fraction on education per capita compared to the U.S. and the U.K.
If you listen to Democrats, they claim that the only valid measure of concern for education is money. They whine year after year that Americans don't "care" about public education. Yet by their yardstick, we are positively fanatical about it.
I think it may be time to stop pumping money into the schools and start putting it outside the schools, putting it in the hands of parents instead of bureaucrats. Numerous studies have shown that improving the achievement and educational outcomes of at-risk students will require significant investments outside schools. Parental involvement at home is the one key discriminator between high performing and low performing schools. Many kids that are having difficulties in school come from single parents homes, homes with two parents working outside the home to make ends meet, and homes with poorly educated or illiterate parents, that aren't unwilling, but just unable to help their kids.
Let's fall back on the "give a man a fish principle." Maybe we should put some of that money where it will do the most good. The "stay at home moms" tax credit so mother's with school age children can stay at home. School vouchers for after school, in home tutoring, for both students and parents, and "high attention" schools with very low student to teacher ratios for kids in high risk households.
We have to do something about failing schools as well. We tried it the NEA's way for 35 years, and we're going backwards, not forwards. It's time to encourage the emergence of market driven education by promoting accountability to consumers, better known as parents. When parents start shopping for better schools and teachers, you watch how fast government run schools turn around. Parental choice in schools represents FREEDOM OF CHOICE. Where have we heard that before? I guess it's okay to have a choice when it comes to killing unborn children, but yet it seems Liberals won't allow you to choose a school when you decide to have those kids instead aborting them. What gets me is that they have the audacity to say Republicans are the ones against kids.
Parental choice in education also represents the ultimate form of accountability to parents, but other policies should also be pursued, such as providing parents with school performance report cards, information on teacher qualifications and performance, and bilingual education options, not mandates. Congress should allow federal funds to support state and local parental school choice programs, as it has already been done in the District of Columbia.
We need to raise the bar on American education by funding programs that concentrate on the CORE of education; Math, Reading, Science, Civics, and U.S. History. With American students' achievement levels in the tank when it comes to these basic academics, it only makes sense that funding should be targeted at the areas that needs the most improvement.
It is irresponsible and bordering on criminal, to divert funding to "social experiments" such as those imposed by the Liberal NEA, when our kids can't do basic math.
The current system is most UNFAIR to minorities. While three-quarters of white students graduate from high school, only half of America's black and Hispanic students graduate. What the liberals and the NEA don't want you to know is that the nation is running two different school systems--one that is doing quite well educating middle-class and wealthy predominantly white students, and another that is failing miserably with poor, predominantly minority students. While they drop their kids off at their posh private school they can afford to send them to, they tell the less wealthy they have to put up with failing public school.
I will stop this and allow ALL parents to seek out the best education for their children, whether it is a public or a private school. This is truly FREEDOM.