Dr. Rice, U.S. Secretary of State 2005-2009 and now director of the Hoover Institute, Stanford University, recently mentioned that, “I don’t understand why opening schools was not deemed essential” (Ref.1)? However, this is NOT a surprise because we as a nation have NOT prioritized having ALL our children acquire the intellectual skills, to the limits of their ability, to succeed in our worldwide industrial economy. Unfortunately, we have allowed teacher unions, their financially supported politicians and teacher certificate granting colleges/universities to control public education with its inferior results for many, especially inner-city minorities. The unbridled power of this group has been amply demonstrated during the pandemic having forced the closing of in-person instruction for a protracted period of time. This despite evidence that schools are safer than home and that closing is having increased catastrophic effects such as suicides, child abuse and diminished learning for millions of children (Ref.2,3).
Equally egregious by the public-school advocates is their attempts to obstruct more successful alternatives (Ref.4). Although recently awakened by protracted school closures during the pandemic, many states are exploring different funding mechanisms challenging the monopoly of public schools (Ref.5). High quality research has demonstrated that competition from newer funding arrangements improves not only their students’ achievements but also improves public schools (Ref.6). If we in this nation do not wish to maintain a large and growing underclass, public school control must be returned to letting parents have multiple choices of schools for their children to attend.
Our colleges and universities appear unconcerned about the preparedness of their entering students and the financial burden they place on them. As clearly shown, the cost of higher education has far exceeded inflation (Ref.6). When I attended college, in the 1960’s, the cost was about $1,600 per year; I worked summers and somewhat during the year and was able to pay the cost despite coming from a penniless background. Today that would be impossible necessitating many to assume large debt. A possible solution is for the university to be the loan agent to the student assuming the risk of re-payment and a reason to control costs. Higher education in the past was the route for many to uplift themselves into the middle class. That route of social mobility is rapidly closing as costs become prohibitive even with financial support.
Equally discouraging has been the drift higher education has undergone de-emphasizing individual accomplishments. In reality, this is being complicit in maintaining low quality K-12 education for many minorities. There is no doubt that with proper education all children with the natural ability can be competitive. It is past time for colleges/universities to demand adequate K-12 schooling for all children. It is also past due for these bastions of higher education to challenge their students with robust thinking with multiple points of view. Truth is a tough taskmaster that demands serious debate and reasoned judgment.
For our nation to thrive K-12 public education must be challenged with competition. Higher education must undergo reform, lowering costs and promoting intellectual rigorousness. We the present generation must prioritize education by demanding these changes if we are to leave our progeny with the robust society we inherited.
1. Condoleezza Rice, The Inequalities Of American Work, The Wall Street Journal, March 19, 2021, available at: https://www.wsj.com/articles/condoleezza-rice-on-the-pandemic-year-the-inequalities-of-american-work-11616159166 (Accessed March 25, 2021
2. Casey B. Mulligan, The Incidence And Magnitude Of The Health Costs Of In-Person Schooling During The Covid-19 Pandemic, National Bureau Of Economic Research, March 2021, available at: https://www.nber.org/system/files/working_papers/w28619/w28619.pdf (Accessed April 1, 2021)
3. Micha Gartz, More “Covid Suicides” than Covid Deaths in Kids, American Institute for Economic Research, March 17, 2021, available at: http://www.aier.org/article/more-covid-suicides-than-covid-deaths-in-kids/ (accessed March 22, 2021)
4. Thomas Sowell, Charter Schools and Their Enemies, Basic Books Hachette Book Group, 1290 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10104, June 2020, 978-1-5416-7514-8 (ebook)
5. The Editorial Board, School Choice Advances in the States, The Wall Street Journal, March 29, 2021, available at: https://www.wsj.com/articles/school-choice-advances-in-the-states-11617059660 (Accessed March 30, 2021)
6. Patrick Wolf, The Data Bears It OUT, Educational Freedom Means Higher Educational Achievement, 21st Century Endowed Chair in School Choice at the University of Arkansas, March 25, 2021, available at: https://projectforeverfree.org/the-data-bears-it-out-educational-freedom-means-higher-educational-achievement/ (Accessed March 26, 2021)
7. Timothy McMahon, College Tuition and Fees vs Overall Inflation, InflationData.com, June 14, 2012, available at: https://inflationdata.com/articles/charts/college-tuition-fees-inflation/ (Accessed April 1, 2021)