Monday, June 27, 2005
I must admit, I don't spend much time thinking about public schools and their related issues. I was fortunate to attend a 12 year private school outside of Baltimore Maryland which provided me an exceptional education, reinforced a very strong set of core values which I also experienced at home and launched me in a direction for which I am eternally grateful. It was a stern and disciplined place, once a military school, subsequently demilitarized and transformed into a coed school by my graduation. As a current resident of New York City, I send my kids to a wonderful, small N-8th grade coed private school. They love it and clearly are well taught (though less severely taught than I was, still not without discipline).
Many of the points Buckley argues regarding public schooling are self evident and correct. Everybody, regardless of political affiliation, can agree that current public schooling is generally inferior and should be improved. The differences in political philosophy, then, which give rise to vastly different tactics to address this important shortcoming deserve honest thought and consideration.
It seems to me money cannot solve the problem. We have tried that in public schools and it has failed. More money has begat worse education. I am a believer in competition, results, standards, discipline, toughness. I tend not to believe in teacher's unions (or most unions, for that matter), politicians (of most any stripe, by the way), bureaucrats and the like. So I like privatization and school choice. I suspect over the long haul it will win the day...
The problem are the teacher unions and the tenure system which reward lazy crackpots masquerading as educators. We have been bucking up against this in a major upper level suburban school system for the last year. Every time we mention a teacher who is an issue the adminstrator sighs wistfully, says "Yes, I know..." sympathetically, and adds "but they have tenure."
As a result we are exercising our right to school choice next year. It's called private school.
I certainly agree with your decision if you have the resources. What troubles me is the notion that people who lack the resources or, frankly, the ingenuity or commitment to make the investment you (and I) would make for our children, in effect abandon their kids to state managed bureaucratic mediocrity. This is tragic. I think privatization and choice, coupled with excellent and committed management, could improve the opportunity to kids who may be less well-off.