Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Michael Moore is Right--We Should Follow Canada's Example..

Yes, you read that right. I didn't mistype. Michael Moore, fat idiotarian fakeumentarian, is absolutely right. We need to follow Canada's example. They have shown the way for years and we have not listend.

Now, before you revoke my Reagan card and send me over to the Soros camp, let me clarify.

We need to follow Canada's example on education, not health care.

For those of you who didn't know, while Canada does have a boondoggle of a socialized and failing health care system, they have a streak of Reagan individualism in them. There is no Ministry of Education. There is no federal cabinet official for K-12 education in Canada. Canada spends very little on Federal education. All funding and policy making takes place at the provincial and state levels.

Contrast that with our system. Over 4000 federal employees in the Dept. of Education. And, Washington gives 10 percent or better of the funding of k-12 education. And also, we have a 19 billion dollar education budgetal increase. This is a total appropriation of over 78 billion dollars. Since 1970, inflation adjusted spending per pupil has risen almost 200%, while achievement by 17 year olds has stagnated, and drop out rates increase. Obama wants to furnish college students with $173 billion in 2011. What are we getting for this? Let's see.

While more people are getting degrees, those degrees are not worth as much as they used to be. There is a huge surplus of degree hlders. According to the US government, only 21% of jobs require bachelor's degrees. Also, the bang for the buck in higher education has gone away. The most recent National Assessment of Adult Literacy shows that the percentage of Americans whose top degree is a bachelor's who were proficient readers dropped about 10 points between 1992 and 2003, and only about 38% were proficient in 1992. Aemricans with graduate degrees saw comparable drops. But the costs continue to rise in college. Why? Well, more free cashola or less restrictive cashola has encoraged students to demand more from schools--rec centers, gourmet food, big time dorms--and enable schools to pass the costs along to Mom and Dad, and all taxpayers who foot the bill for federal aid. It should come as no big deal to learn that real aid per student rose 149% since 1979, while public four year college charges swelled 105%.

And what of public schools? Well, while failing schools continue to get money thrown their way, the failure rates continue to go up. We continue to fail students upwards, putting out students with less knowledge and academic foundations than their forebears even a generation ago. While they may be able to text and facebook, their knowledge in math and civics has cratered.

As Ronald Reagan said, education isn't "an isolated bureaucrat in WAshington"'s responsiblity. It is "a parental right and responsibility." However, we have let many parents abdicate this role, even as they decry teachers working their best in a failed system. We need to get the feds out of education, as Canada has done and continues to do.

In Canada, there is freer experimentation and innovation than in American schools, where unrealistic and unindividualized mandates must be followed. In the US, Washington bureaucrats have used the feds' pockets as a carrot to push states to meet federal directives. Several Canadian provinces provide direct per student grants, similar to vouchers, to private and independent schools. In provinces like British Columbia and Alberta, school choice has empowered PARENTS at all income levels, and academic achievement has skyrocketed. Meanwhile, in the US, we throw more money at failing school systems and the problems only get bigger. According to a study from the Fraser Institute, "Achievement scores are not only higher generally in th provicnes that fund independent schools, but also higher particularly among studetns from less advantaged backgrounds." The study also finds that public schools, forced to compete with private schools, improve their performance. Wow, free markets work!!! Imagine that.

On the 2006 Program for International Student Assessment, Canada destroys the US almost across the board. In Math, the US scores 474 (below average), and Canada with its free market approach scores 527. In reading, Canada outscores America. This is all the more explosive when you realize the US outspends Canada by 20% per student.

But, let's also take a lesson from civics. Aside from its governance of the District of Columbia and the due process clauses in the 5th and 14th Amendments, the Constitution gives the Federal government NO POWER over education. The founders realized how dangerous such a thing could be, and how it could lead to some monolithic system that discriminates systemically. Which is what has happened. I guess the Court judges who have shamefully used the general welfare clause to allow abuses of power like this to go on should go back to school. But, maybe they should go to Canadian schools for lesson in what competitive and achieving schools should look like.

Like the healthcare issue, the government needs to get out of the way. While Canada has realized this in education, they failed to do so in healthcare. We need to look at Canada's success in education and failure in healthcare and realize government needs to let the market decide, and let the rising tide of competition and achievement lift all boats. Artificial goals and incentives only destroy achievement and incentivize mediocrity. Don't American children deserve better?