Monday, May 05, 2014

One of the reasons why it is so hard to improve public schools

Thomas Sowell starts his column Demonizing the Helpers with:

It is not easy to demonize people who have spent hundreds of millions of dollars of their own money to help educate poor children. But some members of the education establishment are taking a shot at it.

The Walton Family Foundation — created by the people who created Walmart — has given more than $300 million to charter schools, voucher programs, and other educational enterprises concerned with the education of poor and minority students across the country.

The Walton Family Foundation gave more than $58 million to the KIPP schools, which have had spectacular success in raising the test scores of children in ghettoes where the other children are far behind in academic performance.

D.C. Prep, in Washington, whose students are mostly poor and black, has also received grants from the Walton Family Foundation. Its test scores likewise exceed those of traditional neighborhood schools, as well as the test scores of other local charter schools. Other wealthy people across the country have been doing similar things for years, including high-tech tycoons like Bill Gates and Michael Dell. It is one of the great untold stories of a unique pattern of philanthropy that makes America truly exceptional.

Yet these philanthropists have been attacked by the teachers’ unions and by others in the education establishment, including academics.

It was painful to watch a well-known historian of education on a TV talk show recently, denouncing people from “Wall Street” who have promoted alternatives to the failing public schools. Apparently, in some circles, you can just say the words “Wall Street” and that proves that something evil is being done.

You can listen in vain for any concrete evidence that these philanthropic efforts to help educate poor children are creating harm.

Instead, you get statements like that from the head of the American Federation of Teachers, saying, “they’re trying to create an alternative system and destabilize what has been the anchor of American democracy.”

Those invested in the current government schools are hostile to anyone who shows them up or provides effective alternatives.    Public schools are only partly about the children.  Public schools are also about providing teachers and school administrators with jobs.  Many of them would like the children to get an education, but too many adults are more concerned about their jobs and positions of power.  

We need more alternative systems which give children chances at a real education.

Hat tip: Instapundit


C T said...

And isn't it ironic that they protect the monopoly of the public school system while simultaneously hating on Walmart for putting all those little rural grocery/hardware/clothing stores out of business?

Henry Cate said...

That is a great point! Thanks for sharing.