John Stossel

 "Joey has been brought up four grade levels in reading," Bowers said. "He's gone from C's, and D's to being an honor roll student." But the Florida Supreme Court this month killed a similar choice program, and Patty fears her kids will soon be forced back into public school. "If they take the McKay scholarship away, I don't think -- I'm sorry. I don't think Joey will finish school."

 Why can't she choose her child's school? Most countries that beat America on international tests give their students that choice. In Belgium, the government spends less than American schools do on each student, but the money is attached to the kids. So they can go wherever they want -- to a state-run school, a Montessori school, or even a religious school.

 "I wouldn't send my child to an American public school," said Maria Loth. "Not even for a million dollars."

 Her son lives in Belgium now, but when he was 6, his family lived in America. "In America, I had to beg, please, please give me good school for my child. And here in Belgium, they're all over the place."

 That's right. In public education, our land of the free is now a bunch of local fiefs, where petty-bureaucrats-turned-lords-of-the-manor decide whether you can get a decent education, and parents must go to them, begging for their children's future. Meanwhile, in Belgium and much of the rest of the world, students and their parents have the freedom to choose their schools -- and the opportunity that comes with that freedom.

John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at > To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at ©Creators Syndicate