1-7-15 – We Need More Than Lip Service on Education Reform

by Frank Mazur

Every community will defend the quality of their education system.  Even failed schools are touted as being outstanding.  School board’s and administration officials all focus on improving outcomes and then brag about their accomplishments.

Facts don’t cease to exists because they are ignored.  Since the 1970’s American students have averaged the same sagging test scores while education spending and regulations have soared three fold.  Parents are oblivious to these findings and even with a decline in reading efficiency there’s been a surge in grade point averages over that time frame due to grade inflation and social promotions.

Among students who graduate a 2 year college data shows 20% are proficient in math; one-third of 4 year college graduates do not improve their “critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing skills” during their entire time in college.

Current public school monopolies and teacher union control, which limit little or no choice in school selection, are breeding mediocrity.  To improve education outcomes, Milton Friedman, a Nobel Prize winning economists, advocated competition through school choice by giving vouchers to parents for selecting the best school for children.  Harvard Professor Caroline Hoxby found that students attending charter schools scored higher in proficiency tests than those attending public schools.

For generations our schools have suffered from education stagnation despite increased spending, less focus on basics, reduced class sizes and advances in technology.  We need elected officials  to seek more creative thinking and bold action, not solutions that call for more money and smaller classrooms.  That formula doesn’t work.

– Frank Mazur is a former state representative from South Burlington, and a former Ethan Allen Institute Board Member.

 

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