Thomas Sowell

Even today, particular minority schools -- sometimes charter schools, sometimes Catholic schools, and sometimes even regular public schools headed by principals who defy the prevailing educational dogmas -- turn out black students who can compete with other students academically.

Teachers' unions and others who defend the public school establishment decry competing schools, on grounds that they are somehow undermining the public schools.

One of the claims is that these alternative schools drain money from the public schools. But expenditures per pupil in the public schools have risen during the era of the spread of alternative schools.

Of course, if there were no alternative schools, the total amount of money going to the public school system might have increased more. But this would not necessarily produce more money per student, since charter schools typically do not get as much money per student as the public schools get.

Then there is the claim that alternative schools "skim the cream" of the students, and that this explains why their test results are better. But many, if not most, charter schools select among their applicants through a lottery.

Lots of things need to be done by lots of people to improve our education system, especially for schools in minority neighborhoods. Demonizing those who are trying to help is not one of them.


Thomas Sowell

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

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