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The True American Education Story

By Patti Bankson

January 21, 2006

Friday night I watched John Stossel’s 20/20 special called, “Stupid in America, how we cheat our children”. I wish every American adult had seen it, especially parents of public school children. The quality of education in this country has been the topic of debate for many years, and has supposedly been addressed in various ways, but I’ve not been convinced that it’s really changed, much less improved. If I’d had any doubts before, that program would have erased them.


Earlier this month, the Florida Supreme Court struck down Jeb Bush’s private-school voucher program, leaving him thinking about a constitutional amendment to achieve his goal of allowing the use of taxpayer dollars to send children to private schools. Interestingly, in other parts of the world – where students far surpass American students academically – the money is not attached to the school, but to the child. If that were the case here, there would have been no issue to take to the Supreme Court or a need to discuss amending the Constitution.


Clearly, the idea of having to compete in the educational world is seen as a threat by (many, not all) teachers and their unbelievably powerful union. The most common response to the idea of vouchers is that it will take money away from schools that are already “failing”. Yeah… that’s the idea. Maybe that would change the entitlement thinking to excellence thinking, to actually caring-more-about-the-kids-than-yourself-thinking. Somehow the belief is that schools’ failure is entirely due to the lack of money. Here’s something that helps blow that theory.


A number of years ago, there was a court order saying more money must be spent on Kansas City schools. Accordingly, there was $2 Billion more spent to build an Olympic size pool, state-of-the-art gym, indoor track, and computer labs. They had so much money, they bussed in more kids. Oops, did I say bussed? What they actually did was use 120 TAXIS, not busses! In spite of increased spending, by 2000, Kansas City schools failed to meet any of its state’s standards and lost their accreditation.


That’s just one example of our hard-earned tax dollars at work - which brings me back to vouchers and the lack of competition in education. People can throw the word unconstitutional at me all day long for all I care, but I’m convinced that the real issues are: (1) The refusal of a union and (most of) its members to allow themselves to be put to the ultimate test, the one businesses must pass to keep their doors open… can you do a good enough job (teaching) to convince parents to put their children and their dollars into your school or not? You can say what you want, but public schools are a government monopoly and parents and children have no choice in the matter. (2) The (biggest) objection is not to putting tax dollars into private schools, but into private religious schools.


Again, as a parent and a taxpayer, the only educational choice is the government school or you can pay private school tuition – in addition to your taxes.


Next week: All that money spent and Johnny STILL can’t read.


Your comments are welcome at

© Patti Bankson 2006



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