Despite the considerable innovative leeway that is given to charter schools, let's not forget that we do not have anything that approaches freedom and a free market in education. Charters provide a framework for flexibility, but true freedom would open many more dimensions and possibilities for innovation, both in content and form. Although no one disputes that the success of a child's education reflects the child's home life as well as the child's school life, we have severed the fundamental link that ties these two worlds together _ values. Teaching moral values and self control are off limits in the curricula of charter schools as well as public schools.
Consider a fascinating new study recently released by the National Foundation of American Policy that shows that the top prizes in math and science to high school students are being awarded to foreign born students. In major national competitions, 60 percent of the finalists in the Intel Science Talent Search, 65 percent of the top scorers in the U.S. Math Olympiads, and 46 percent of the U.S. Physics team are children of immigrants.
The U.S. Physics team consists of 24 of the top high school students that are selected through a nomination and testing process. From among these, five students are selected to represent the United States in the International Physics Olympiad. Two of the five students that will represent the U.S. this year in the competition, which will take place in South Korea, are immigrant children.
The NFAP study quotes the Russian immigrant father of one of these five: "I don't like saying this but math and physics are not the strong side of American schools." He says that from what he has observed in his daughter's educational experience here, what U.S. students learn in 12fth-grade math classes, Russian students study in eighth and ninth grades.
The U.S. education market should be opened up. The last thing we need, contrary to what the AFT seems to be saying, is to preserve our disastrous status quo. We need innovation. The U.S. has shown mankind that that nothing unleashes innovation and creativity like free markets. We cannot continue to insulate our most important problem education from our most powerful solution freedom and its moral foundation.