Terry Jeffrey

Obama's unstated assumption: Central planners, not the free market, ought to determine the value of a particular job and who gets paid what.

I say: Let the market decide -- especially in education.

The greatest problem with primary and secondary education in America today is precisely that it is dominated by government-run schools that people are compelled by force of law to pay for whether they like them or not and whether they send their children there or not. The second greatest problem is that the political power controlling these government-run schools has become increasingly centralized, gradually removing decision-making from local communities, passing it up to the state and federal level.

On NBC, Obama made clear he wants to use increased federal education spending to increase federal leverage over local schools, forcing policy changes preferred by him. That would move power in exactly the wrong direction.

The historical record compiled by the Department of Education itself shows that increased government spending on education does not improve the academic performance of government schools.

"From 1989-90 to 2006-07, total expenditures per student in public elementary and secondary schools rose from $8,748 to $11,839 (a 35 percent increase in 2008-09 constant dollars), with most of the increase occurring after 1997-98," says the Education Department's The Condition of Education 2010.

In 1980, 17-year-old students in public schools earned an average score of 284 out of 500 on the National Assessment of Educational Progress reading test. In 2008, they still scored 284. Despite increased per pupil spending, the needle did not move.

In 1999, 17-year-old students in American public schools earned an average score of 307 out of 500 on the National Assessment of Educational Progress math test. In 2008, they scored 305. The needle moved in the wrong direction.

Every community in America should give all parents a voucher equal to what it now pays per-pupil for its public schools, allowing those parents to use those vouchers at any school they choose. Let the market decide if government-run schools survive.


Terry Jeffrey

Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSNews

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