I remember being told on sports teams that it was not winning that mattered, but having a good time. Well, damn it, I have a good time winning! Competition is bad. That’s what our nation is teaching children; it is also what the nation’s teachers’ unions are pushing on our public school system.
If there were one thing I would like the government to spend my money on it would be education (don’t mix my words, I’d still rather it be private, but if . . .). However, we are now spending well over $10,000 per public school student per year. Urban areas typically spend much more. Washington DC spends over $14,000 per student per year. This is more than double what we spent (adjusted for inflation) forty years ago. We constantly hear about underfunded schools being the cause for students’ poor education. “If only we could afford a new computer lab and upgraded gym, then our students would finally get the education they deserve.” Well, spending on education has gone up astronomically, while test scores have remained stagnant. How could this be?
There is one thing that rings true in every walk of life: competition improves everything. Yes, everything. The teachers’ unions of the United States disagree with this law, however. They will have you believe that children are too precious to be caught up in competition. This is why the teachers’ unions are the biggest opponents of voucher systems within public schools around the United States.
Voucher systems attach the money spent on each child’s education to that child and allows the child’s parents to choose where he or she attends school. So, you can decide to send your daughter to the school that has a 40% dropout rate or you can choose to send her to the school that sees 80% of its graduates advance to college. You can even have your daughter go to a private school that feeds directly into Harvard and the state will give your tax dollars to that school instead of the school that sees nearly half its students leave school for the local Jack in the Box. The school you decide to send your daughter to is the school that gets the money from the city/state/feds. This creates a competitive environment for schools in that they must offer your daughter the best education, most impressive facilities, and cheapest cost of attendance in an effort to solicit your bid of support. This competition then leads to every school either improving or closing. As the bad schools close the good schools will grow and new, even better schools will open. The main benefactors of this competition are your child (who will get a better education) and the tax-payers (who will save money because there will be less waste and therefore less spending on education). Seems too good to be true, doesn’t it?
Teachers’ unions do not see the voucher system the way sane, rational, freedom-loving Americans do. Teachers’ unions see the voucher system as a threat to job security. As it stands today, most teachers’ unions have negotiated tenure with public school systems. Once a teacher achieves tenure they become virtually impossible to fire and their salaries are fixed to nothing more than seniority and sometimes their level of education. As such, the incentive to log long hours helping to improve the education of students becomes extremely limited. Under a voucher system teachers would be expected to provide the best education possible and would face losing their job if they do not do so. Teachers would also be thrown into a system similar to the world of business where better teaching and results will lead to higher salaries and bonuses, instead of higher pay coming only with seniority. This is scary to someone that has no interest in working hard to improve education and teach younger generations. It is the goal of a teachers’ union to make it so no teacher ever has to worry about his/her job and so they vehemently oppose any system that will create competition amongst schools and teachers (i.e. the voucher system). It takes a special type of organization to accept the duty of educating our nation’s younger generations and block systems that would dramatically improve that education.
Luckily, not all teachers have such little confidence in their ability to teach that they would prefer tenure to the prospect of better instructing students and earning larger salaries. These are the teachers that I want teaching my (eventual) child and these are the teachers that will thrive if we ever do come to our senses and stop listening to the remarkably destructive and malevolent teachers unions.
Private schools do not provide a better education for any other reason than the fact that they must compete with other private schools as well as public schools. In school systems that have instituted voucher systems, the difference in the quality of education between public and private schools becomes increasingly narrow. Competition improves everything. It is time we make our children’s schools compete. It is time that we see teachers’ unions as the incomprehensible organizations that they are; if a teacher is not confident enough in his abilities to compete with other teachers then he should not be teaching this nation’s children.
Please post your comments slamming my harsh treatment of teachers’ unions below.