Friday, February 22, 2008

Public Schools Have No Accountability

Today's public schools merely go through the motions instead of actually transfer knowledge from one generation to the next. Yes, there are exceptions, but what matters is the general failure. It is allowed because of how the school system describes itself at the state level. It is not responsible for learning. All that the government schools are asked to do is, "offer instructional experiences." There is no requirement for learning; no specific expectations upon the students. There is no accountability in the system.

The law (in CT) says that parents are responsible for their children's education, and that applies whether or not they send them to a school. Therefore, in the eyes of the public schools, if the child does not learn, it's the child's fault, never the school's, even though it is often the case that the school did not provide proper instruction.

In the real world of competition and free trade, both sides -- sellers and buyers -- benefit from all transactions. With each purchase, both parties increase their worth. When a business does not serve its customers by offering high quality products or services at reasonable prices, it loses patronage, lays off its employees and goes out of business. In short, it fails. It must pay off its creditors and dissolve.

But when a government agency -- say, the public school system -- fails to provide the service that it is expected to provide, what happens? Nothing. In fact, it often is given more money without penalty. The school system is a monstrous failure, yet not only does it not go out of business, it is rewarded more and more each year for its failure.

Failure to achieve their mission is the easiest route for public schools to increase their revenues. All they need to do is say, loudly, "We are not achieving our goals because we don't have enough money." It works every time. Never mind that America spends more per pupil than virtually all other countries and in recent decades has among the worst performing schools. In fact, public schools spend about twice the amount that successful private schools charge per student.

According to international and US Dept of Ed. reports, the school system is a monstrous failure, yet not only do none of its schools go out of business, but they are rewarded more and more each year for their failure.

We are forced to wonder why this happens, and the answer might just be that the business of the school system is not education, but other things entirely. Years ago, John Holt wrote that the purposes of public school are, 1. Custody (babysitting), 2. Labeling children for employment (meatstamping), and 3. Jobs for adults (an employment empire at public expense).

Maybe those reasons are what the schools like to call "socialization."


Amberlee said...

I keep wondering why we have to continue to fund this failure and why we are unable to retract our money from it. Why isn't there a public school revolution where we get our taxes back....why can't we make a change? Why are they so "powerful" over frustrating! Thanks for your thoughts. I just wish someone could tell us HOW to change it not just that we need to.

Ned Vare said...

Sorry, I don't mean to add to your frustration. My goal is merely to confirm that we, the public, are over a barrel with the public school system -- we are forced to pay for it whether or not we use it or approve of it.
Parents who realize that the schools are bad places are taking their children out -- a personal act. Step two will be to reduce the schools' funding instead of giving them more money every year. That is a political problem needing action by many.
One such act is a letter to the editor that speaks your piece.