Wednesday, March 01, 2017 - Updated: 2:09 AM
U.S. students' academic achievement lags that of students in many other countries. There are several tests that measure the academic achievement of students around the world. One is the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), whose results in 2015 for reading, math and science placed the U.S. 38th out of 71 countries in math and 24th in science. Among the 35 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which sponsors the PISA initiative, the U.S. ranked 30th in math and 19th in science.
We brag that we are the best in the world. Sadly, our public school performance is not. Our Common Core, a national program for academic standards, would be the same for each state. However one main goal is to have students graduate ready for college. Not all students need or want a college education. We need auto mechanics, steel workers, farm laborer and all the skilled trades. Our nation would be better served if some students were taught basic skills in math, reading and science and then a trade. Then they could find fulfilling and useful occupations after leaving school. Charter schools could also be public vocational trade schools. They would not have to follow many of the regulations that public schools do.
Competition will drive up quality if schools work harder to retain their student population.
Private business must perform and get results or they will lose customers and possibly go out of business. However, public schools will not go out of business if they fail to produce. There is not the pressure to excel and no penalty for failure.
Charter schools are public and get their funding from state and local governments, however they do not have to follow all of the burdensome regulations of regular public schools.
People may worry that vouchers are taking money away from public education, but it seems that it may well stimulate public schools to improve. Private industry uses new innovations to improve, and it seems the government could benefit also.
Parochial schools produce outstanding academic results in their students; because they do not get government funding they can teach as they wish. Is it just wealthier parents who send their kids to a school of their own choice? No. Many parents sacrifice a great deal in order to pay their taxes and then also the added burden of tuition to their parochial school of choice. Scholarship tax credits should be available for these parents.
Two ways we could save and make our education system more efficient is to eliminate the Department of Education. The federal government needs to return control of our schools back to the states. The other is to eliminate English as a Second Language. The fastest way to learn a language is to completely immerse yourself in it. It makes no sense to teach children in another language by a separate teacher in a separate classroom when they are in a school where all other textbooks and teachers use English.