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""Stupid in America" is a nasty title for a program about public education, but some nasty things are going on in America's public schools and it's about time we face up to it." Great documentary for libertarians and Ron Paul supporters.
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From a Blog
By Pepper of the Daily Pepper
John Stossel has a new libertarian rant, "Stupid in America: How We Cheat Our Kids" (or, more appropriately, "Stupid in America: Belgium Rocks My World"), in which he blames all problems with American education on those lazy public-school teachers. Because, really, all teachers are just as they are portrayed on television, right? In Stossel's companion article, he gripes, "Don't like your public school? Tough. The school is terrible? Tough. Your taxes fund that school regardless of whether it's good or bad. That's why government monopolies routinely fail their customers. Union-dominated monopolies are even worse. "
Did you hear the sneer behind the word "Union"? Yes, teachers who like to eat and pay their mortgage are destroying your child's education. Well, Doghouse Riley, who happens to know a thing or two about public schools, held his nose and watched the whole program. With a little research, he proceeds to poke a hole in each of Stossel's arguments, starting with Stossel's misplaced affection for Belgium, which supposedly spends less on its students yet their students have higher scores than Americans:
That's easily checked using the figures from the very test program that Stossel is using (both in the sense of "to employ" and "to manipulate cheaply for one's own gain", though I'm not sure those don't mean the same thing to him), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Programme for International Student Assessment, or PISA, tests. "Expenditure on Educational Institutions", from the chart on page 67 of the 2004 report:
* Belgium: % of GDP, Public Schools: 5.97
* United States: % of GDP, Public Schools: 4.66
Maybe it's just that some of our adults have a little problem with advanced mathematics, too. But then, per the report, Belgian funding "follows the student" into the school of his choice, so perhaps the 6.36% of GDP spent on public and private schools combined is more apt.
Doghouse Riley proceeds to pluck at Stossel, noting that he taped classrooms on the last day of school, when most students are goofing off anyway. He also questions Stossel's use of the "international test" that favors the Belgians and has a "distinct Pepsi challenge air about it already."
I also find it fascinating that Stossel uses his program to pick on the teachers, the little guys in the melodrama that is public education. Blaming the teachers is easy, instead of taking a hard look at the administrators who give themselves raises (UC, I mean you!) and then increase class sizes to save money.
Education in America is screwed up, I'll give Stossel that. But teachers are being treated like the new scrubs of the service industry. Given the McDonaldification of education, teachers may as well ask, "Would you like fries with that?" after giving a lecture on the War of 1812. (I was in a TA union because the administrators were trying to raise the class cap and dock the health care, so I am fully aware of how administrators treat teachers like toilet paper. "Blame the union," whatever.)
Social class also has plenty to do with the education students receive. In the well-off community of Orinda, where a friend used to teach, the students benefitted from the property taxes of their parents, and the students regularly got into the University of California school system. Compare that to the poorer schools of San Francisco or Oakland, where there is no cash to go around, and the schools have become more or less holding pens for the students.
Perhaps someone should tell Stossel that it isn't the fact that we waste cash on the schools. The money simply isn't going to the students who need it. The amount spent per student is an average, and the Orinda kids will get a larger piece of the pie than the Oakland kids. Of course, such a comment is too socialist for a "pull-'em'-up by the bootstraps" kind of guy like Stossel.
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