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Archive for December 5th, 2022

When I write about government schools, I often revise Winston Churchill’s famous quote about the Royal Air Force so that it reads “never have so many paid so much to achieve so little.”

That’s because American taxpayers have been dumping ever-larger amounts of money into government schools and getting consistently dismal outcomes.

Many families, especially those with money, have opted out. They are still forced to pay taxes for government schools, of course, but they prefer private education.

That means paying with their money for a private school or paying with their time (and some money) for homeschooling.

It’s happening more and more, as John Harden and Steven Johnson have reported in the Washington Post.

The pandemic transformed the landscape of K-12 education. Some parents withdrew their kids from public school and placed them into private or home schools. Their reasons varied: Many preferred private schools that offered in-person instruction; others distrusted public schools’ pandemic precautions. …So far, data show that since 2019, private enrollment is up, public enrollment is down and home schooling has become more popular. Families flocked to private and home schools at the greatest rate in a decade, according to American Community Survey estimates from the U.S. Census. The government projects that K-12 public school enrollment — already facing demographic pressures — will drop further to about 46 million students by fall 2030, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, reversing decades of growth.

The story then continues with summary statements from several parents about why they opted their kids out of government schools.

But allow me to throw in my two cents and answer the question about “Why are Americans Fleeing Public Schools?”

  • Subpar Education – I sent my kids to private schools because I wanted them to get a better-quality education and the evidence is clear that private alternatives do a much better job of teaching.
  • Political Brainwashing – It is good for kids to learn the good points and bad points about their nation’s history, but things like the “1619 Project” are academically sloppy and almost seem designed to promote victimhood and division.
  • Pandemic Failure – It became apparent to many parents that government schools, first and foremost, are run for the benefit of government bureaucrats rather than providing education for children.

There doubtlessly are many other reasons for choosing private alternatives over the government monopoly.

Some parents worry about safety. Others want a school that reflects their social and religious values.

Since I’m a public-finance economist, I’m motivated by the fact that government schools cost more and provide and inferior product.

The bottom line is that everyone deserves education choice, not just rich people (including lots of hypocritical leftists).

P.S. Here’s a video explaining the benefits of school choice.

P.P.S. There’s international evidence from SwedenChileCanada, and the Netherlands, all of which shows superior results when competition replaces government education monopolies.

 

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