The government-school establishment has said the same thing for decades: Education is too important to leave to the competitive market. If we really want to help our kids, we must focus more resources on the government schools. . . Since 1980, government spending on education, adjusted for inflation, has nearly doubled. But test scores have been flat for decades. Today we spend a stunning $11,000 a year per student -- more than $200,000 per classroom. It's not working. So when will we permit competition and choice, which works great with everything else? . . The people who test students internationally told us that two factors predict a country's educational success: Do the schools have the autonomy to experiment, and do parents have a choice?
Parents care about their kids and want them to learn and succeed -- even poor parents. Thousands line up hoping to get their kids into one of the few hundred lottery-assigned slots at Harlem Success Academy, a highly ranked charter school in New York City. Kids and parents cry when they lose. Yet the establishment is against choice. The union demonstrated outside Harlem Success the first day of school. And President Obama killed Washington, D.C.'s voucher program. This is typical of elitists, who believe that parents, especially poor ones, can't make good choices about their kids' education. . .
To give the establishment its best shot, consider Head Start, which politicians view as sacred. The $166 billion program is 45 years old, so it's had time to prove itself. But guess what: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently found no difference in first-grade test results between kids who went through Head Start and similar kids who didn't. President Obama has repeatedly promised to "eliminate programs that don't work," but he wants to give Head Start a billion more dollars. The White House wouldn't explain this contradiction to me.
Andrew Coulson, head of the Cato Institute's Center for Educational Reform, said, "If Head Start (worked), we would expect now, after 45 years of this program, for graduation rates to have gone up; we would expect the gap between the kids of high school dropouts and the kids of college graduates to have shrunk; we would expect students to be learning more. None of that is true."Choice works, and government monopolies don't. How much more evidence do we need?