March 27, 2014

K-12 IMPLOSION UPDATE: Choice, Not More Spending, Is Key To Better Schools.

Most proposals for improving education come down to the same thing — spend more of the taxpayers’ money.

But that’s what we’ve been doing for two or more generations, and it hasn’t worked. Andrew J. Coulson, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, calculates that inflation-adjusted spending per pupil more than doubled from $5,500 a year in 1970 to more than $12,500 in 2010.

What did America get for its money? Nothing — at least when measured in terms of educational quality. Since 1970, average test scores among 17-year-olds have been flat in reading and math, and down in science. . . .

Money can buy a lot in public schools — smaller classes, better teachers, modern facilities, computers and other technologies. So why hasn’t spending paid off in better educational outcomes? The biggest impediment is a government-run school system resistant to innovation, indifferent to student needs and mired in mediocrity.

Better schools are certainly within our means, but we won’t get them with current assumptions and institutions. It’s time to harness the tried-and-true forces of capitalism — most important, choice and competition. Capitalism in the classroom will create proper incentives, spur innovation and drive entrepreneurial activity.

Gosh, you could write a book on all that’s involved here.