The first step in understanding the public education mess is to realize that IT’S NOT ABOUT MONEY. Teachers — despite the widespread myth — are overpaid and underworked. Innumerable studies show that parochial schools produce better test scores with half or sometimes even as little as a third of public-school budgets. California, to pick a bellwether state, spends more than twice as much money (inflation adjusted) per student now than it did 30 years ago, but its educational performance has plummeted from near the top of the nation to the bottom half of the school systems in the same time frame. Only 18 percent of California’s fourth-graders are able to read proficiently based on the National Assessment of Education Progress reading test.
Here’s what the public doesn’t know, thanks to millions of dollars in misleading advertising campaigns conducted by the National Education Association: As a result of the contracts negotiated by their unions, teachers are not required to be at their job more than six hours and 20 minutes a day. When you add to that the fact that teachers only work nine months out of the year, and then calculate teachers’ pay on the basis of the eight-hour-day and 11-and-a-half-month year that the rest of us work, the pay for a seventh-grade science teacher in New York City is between $60 and $70 an hour. That amounts to an annual salary of well over $100,000.
And that’s only the beginning of the problem. Unlike the rest of us, teachers are tenured after two years and thus have lifetime job security, are guaranteed raises and are not accountable for their performance (or lack of it). As far as the union-dominated public school system is concerned, there are no bad teachers.
Our school systems are mini-versions of the socialist states that collapsed from the sheer weight of their economic backwardness in 1989 and 1990. Why do we think the same crackpot Marxist economics can work to educate our children? If teachers are not expected to work hard, if their incentives do not reward them for educating our children and punish them for failing at their jobs, how can we expect anything better than the mess we have?
If you have a favorite Horowitz quote you want to highlight for others then please submit it here. Please include:
- “Horowitz Quote of the Day” in subject line.
- A link to where the quote is from. (No need to include this if it’s from a book.)
- Any remarks you’d like published explaining what value you take from it.
- Your preferred name and a link to your blog or homepage (if you have one.)