Thomas Sowell

Despite the newness of charter schools and voucher schools, their lesser amounts of money per pupil and their need to rent space, instead of having it provided free like the public schools, the results are starting to come in, showing that these alternative schools are getting better academic results. So is homeschooling.

The response of the education establishment was exemplified recently by one of its spokesmen who tried on TV to minimize the rise in children's test scores after transferring to private schools by saying that this was "no panacea." Apparently only a panacea would be better than our failing public schools.

One of the scare tactics of the teachers' union is to claim that "anybody" can set up voucher schools and teach "anything" -- including weird, off-the-wall stuff. But "anybody" cannot teach in either voucher schools or public schools. Only people who satisfy parents can get students to enrol in voucher schools. In the public schools, only people who have gone through worthless courses in education can become "certified" teachers -- which means that many highly educated and intelligent people are repelled.

As for teaching "anything," that is what our public schools are increasingly doing -- teaching everything from New Age paganism to homosexual techniques. Children have been subjected to weeks of morbid "death education," even when parents complain of their children's tears or nightmares.

The only justification for these excursions into weirdness is that it allows intellectual losers to feel important as "agents of change" by taking advantage of other people's children behind their parents' backs. Teachers and teachers' unions talk a great game about their concern for children, but their actions reveal their over-riding concern for their own egos and their own jobs. But will the voters wake up to this before the election?

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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