Even though Pat Buchanan sometimes veers into big-government populism and has odd theories on things such as World War II, I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for him – perhaps because he featured one of my Wall Street Journal opeds in a 1992 campaign commercial when he challenged President George H.W. Bush. But he’s also a crisp writer, and his Townhall.com column on education is right on the mark:
As George W. Bush famously asked, “Is our children learning?” Apparently not in the twin capitals of liberalism, D.C. and New York. In a ranking of 50 states and D.C. by how much each spent per pupil in public schools in 2005, New York ranked first; D.C. third. The state spent $14,100, and New York City just a tad less. And the bountiful fruits of this massive transfer of taxpayers’ wealth? In D.C., nearly half of all black and Latino students drop out. Of those who graduate, nearly half are reading and doing math at seventh-, eighth- and ninth-grade levels. D.C. academic achievement ranks 51st, last in the U.S. Yet last week came a report from New York that makes D.C look like M.I.T. Some 200 students, in their first math class at City University of New York, were tested on their basic math skills. Ninety percent could not do basic algebra. One-third could not convert a decimal into a fraction. …As 70 percent of all CUNY students are graduates of city schools, a question arises: What are the taxpayers of New York getting for the highest tax rates in the nation? If a private business annually turned out products that were of inferior quality than the year before, management would be thrown out by the board. Yet, the education racket has been shaking us down for four decades, and turning out graduates that know less and less. Scholastic Aptitude Test scores peaked around 1964. Ever since, the national average has been in an almost unbroken descent. So embarrassing did it get that, a few years ago, the SAT folks retooled the test to produce higher scores.