In Kentucky, the 1989 Rose decision resulted in a court order for certain structural changes and increased funding. The structural changes were implemented, but they produced no improvements in classrooms. The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores, sometimes referred to as the nation's report card, showed little or no progress in Kentucky public schools. Of special significance was the impact on black students, who comprise 11 percent of the state's public school enrollment. The authors write that black students in Kentucky "have fallen even further behind the nation" during the court-ordered remedy.
New Jersey has been wrestling with its education system and court orders to fix it since 1970. There are more than 600 school districts in the state. Thirty-one are known as "Abbott districts," named after the court case that resulted in $1.5 billion in additional education spending (per pupil spending in New Jersey exceeded $20,000 last year). The Abbott districts contain about half the black and Hispanic students in the state. What's the result of all this new spending? The authors write, "The picture we find is a mixed one, with little evidence that the state's black students have progressed much, if at all, relative to black students nationwide." They do note that Hispanic students have made "significant progress," but they don't see a direct connection between spending and achievement.
In Massachusetts, education spending has increase from $3 billion to $10 billion over the last decade because of a court order, but it has been accompanied by major structural changes that include "a rigorous regimen of academic standards, graduation exams, and accountability."
The argument for school choice is strengthened when one reads the data and conclusions by Hanushek and Lindseth. African-American parents, especially, should protest in the streets because too many of their children are being denied their right to a good education. Politicians who care more about campaign contributions from the education lobbyists than they do about children should be thrown out of office and replaced with people who put children first and allow them and their parents to choose better schools for a better future.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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