James A. Watkins is an entrepreneur, musician, and a writer with four non-fiction books and hundreds of magazine articles read by millions.
Who Wants School Choice
Much is written about what divides Americans. One issue that unites us is School Choice, also known as Education Freedom. Every group that demographers can dream up wants it. Whites, Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Urban, Suburban, Rural, old, and young want School Choice.
Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) are the most popular way to deliver School Choice. Eighty-one percent of Americans support ESAs, eighty-six percent of parents of minor children. Surveys show that only 36% of parents would send their children to a public school given a choice. Forty percent would choose a private school if they could afford it, 13% a charter school, and 10% would homeschool. People would prefer to fund students, not systems. There are empty school buildings all over the country that private schools want to use, but Democrats block private schools from renting them.
Why is it that such a desired change in favor of Education Freedom is not yet won? Teachers' unions demand a monopoly over your child's education, and Democrat politicians help them maintain it.
How Education Freedom Would Work
Education Savings Accounts work like this: An account is set up for every parent of a school-age child. The state would deposit the amount of money the local school district spends per child for each pupil. Parents are free to forward that money to the public school. They are also free to use it for any educational purpose they deem fit, such as a Christian, charter, or technical school; online classes; homeschooling; tutoring; or any other private education provider, service, or product.
If we create a free market, who knows what new options will pop up. Walmart or Amazon might start schools. One thing we know about America, if demand is there, someone will offer supply.
School Choice means the money is for the student, as are college grants and loans. It separates the financing of education from the providing of it. We focus on the child, not the institution. It empowers families to shop, select, and purchase what they know is best for their children. We give poor folks the same options the rich now utilize to choose the best learning environment.
Government Schools Do a Lousy Job
Americans spend more than any other country educating its children, well over a trillion dollars per year, roughly $18,000 per year per pupil K-12. In inflation-adjusted dollars, we have tripled the amount spent per pupil in fifty years. Granting government schools a monopoly has failed us. Eighty-two percent of public schools are failing. Two-thirds of K-12 students cannot read at their grade level.
The average American citizen was more literate in 1800 than they are today. The Federalist Papers were published to be read by the common man. The U.S. Department of Education admits that 32 million adults are illiterate, 21% of adults cannot read above a 5th-grade level, and 19% of high school graduates are functionally illiterate, unable to read their own diplomas.
A high cost is paid because people cannot read or write. They have a hard time supporting themselves and require much more social services. The Literacy Center estimates it costs taxpayers $225 billion per year. But who it hurts the worst, financially, psychologically, and socially, are those who cannot read or write well enough to participate in our society fully.
Over 30 million American adults cannot do arithmetic at better than a 3rd-grade level. Far less than half of the children in the 4th grade are competent at it for their age. By 8th grade, that drops to a third. Just above one-third of 4th and 8thgraders are proficient in science, and only 22% of high school seniors.
Things are even worse where Democrats have run the schools for decades, our urban areas. For example, 96% of 8th-grade students in Detroit cannot pass a NEAP math test, and 93% cannot read well enough. In Baltimore, 13 of 39 public high schools had not one single student who could pass a math test, and the other 26 schools had 14 students combined who could. These are the children who need School Choice desperately.
The problem is things are getting worse and worse and have been since the 1960s. Back then, America was admired around the world for having the best schools on the planet. In reading, writing, arithmetic, and science, our kids have fallen further and further behind, especially in this most recent decade. Of the 35 most advanced nations, we rank near the bottom in math.
A Charter School is a public school that operates independently, i.e., outside the public school system of its town. There are 7,000 of them in the United States. One thing that stands out about Charter Schools is their high standards for student conduct.
Children and teenagers have a hard time learning in a chaotic environment. Without strict discipline, cognitive abilities never blossom but decline. In charter schools, the halls are silent even when filled with students. Kids are sent home if they are not appropriately dressed. No foul language or threatening behavior is allowed whatsoever.
The most successful and largest network is the 242 schools of KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program), which serve over 100,000 students. KIPP prepares children in low-income neighborhoods for college. Almost all its students are grade-level proficient in math, reading, science, and history.
The Success Academy serves 20,000 students in New York City at its 47 schools. Eight out of ten students are poor. Fifteen percent are special needs. Only 7% are white. Its kids score in the top 1% of all New York State Schools. All but seven of the top thirty schools in New York are charters, and their pupils are 80% Black and Latino. Three of the top ten high schools in the U.S.A are charters, and 23 out of the best 100.
Washington D.C. has a voucher program for School Choice. While 83% of D.C. students are Black or Hispanic, 91% of parents who use vouchers are. The government school only graduates 68% of its kids; 98% of students graduate who use vouchers to attend a Charter or Christian school. Eighty-six percent of those who opt-out of the government schools advance to college. Only 56% of those who remain in government schools do.
Christian schools do a better job for less money because they are not forced to capitulate to the demands of federal bureaucrats regarding curriculum, teaching methods, and who is qualified to teach. Christian schools consistently deliver higher academic performance at half the cost of public schools, demonstrating that throwing money at education is not the answer. Not only that, but at a Christian school, a child is far less apt to encounter drugs or alcohol, theft or vandalism, gangs, or racial strife, or be bullied or assaulted. Studies show graduates of Christian schools show remarkably better mental health.
Whether a Christian school is in an urban area, the suburbs, or a small town, its pupils are more proficient at reading and math. However, without Education Freedom, the parents, in effect, pay twice. Their taxes pay for the education of other people's children at the public school, and they must pay tuition to educate their children at the Christian school. With Education Freedom, poorer families will be able to send their children to a Christian school, if they choose to, without worrying about the cost.
Forty percent of Catholic schools are in the same neighborhoods as failing urban public schools. Minority children make up 20% of Catholic school students nationwide. The graduation rate is an incredible 99%. And 86% go on to college. Because of lower costs, Catholic schools save taxpayers tens of billions of dollars each year. In addition, having a Catholic school in an urban neighborhood lowers the rate of violent crime. A famous study shows 33% less crime in inner-city communities that feature a Catholic school.
A joint report from the American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for Family Studies concludes: “Adults who attended Protestant schools are more than twice as likely to be in an intact marriage as those who attended public schools. They are also about 50% less likely than public-school attendees to have a child out of wedlock. Protestant-school attendees are about 60% less likely than public-school attendees to have ever divorced. Strikingly, children of poor parents were more likely to be married and less likely to have a child out of wedlock if they went to a Christian school than children of wealthy parents who went to a public school.
“Students in Protestant schools were far less likely to say their peers engaged in premarital sex and illegal drug use. Christian schools' norms, values, and habits are superior to those of public schools in terms of supporting marriage and other key elements conducive to the common good. Centuries of social science and informed observation have shown marriage is crucial to a well-ordered society, and the lack of it means more crime, dependency, and despair.”
Where School Choice exists, far more parents want to get their children out of the public schools than local authorities allow. In most places, they hold a lottery to see who the lucky children are that get to escape the public schools. The winners whoop with unrestrained joy, while those who do not win hang their heads in dejection.
A study of a School Choice lottery program in Charlotte, North Carolina, by David Deming, found that students who won the lottery and escaped the public schools “were arrested 45 percent less on felony charges and 70 percent less for drug felonies.” The reductions in criminal behavior continued long after completing their education.
Another study of the winners of School Choice lotteries by Roland Fryer and Will Dobbie shows “lottery winning students had higher math and reading scores, were 23 percent more likely to graduate on time, and 52 percent more likely to enroll in college. Female students were 59 percent less likely to report a teenage pregnancy, while male students had a 100 percent reduction in incarcerations.”
A study of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program reveals that among lottery winners, "felonies dropped by 79 percent, drug crimes by 93 percent, and theft by 87 percent.”
Christian schools produce better citizens, who are more likely to be better informed about political and social issues, tolerant of others, civic-minded and perform community service. It just could be teaching children the opposite of the worldview indoctrinated by the public schools might produce better neighbors. The Christian school teaches the same subjects but through a lens of the Christian worldview: Objective truth exists; reason and faith are complementary; all people are formed in God's Image; a good life flows from developing good character, moral habits, and personal virtue; God calls us to serve our fellow man.
The secular worldview pushed by government schools has led to a dramatic increase in almost every social pathology in America today. Being taught you are nothing but an accidental animal in a godless universe with no higher authority than your own feelings, that your life has no purpose or meaning, leads to less Holy Matrimony, live births, stable families, happy, well-adjusted children and parents, steady employment, and lifelong success—less LOVE—but more dependence, despair, theft, domestic violence, child abuse, suicide, and murder—more HATE.
The erosion of the Christian worldview has not been a natural occurrence but a thing that has been designed and engineered through government schools.
Homeschooled pupils score higher on standardized tests than those who attend public schools. They are also more apt to graduate from high school and find success in college, with higher-than-average GPAs. On the SATs, homeschoolers score 71 points better than the national average. They dominate academic competitions, for one example, the National Spelling Bee.
All for vastly less cost than any other schooling. So much for teacher credentialing being the end-all-be-all of teaching ability.
36% of white parents surveyed would like to homeschool their children; 38% of Latino parents; 50% of blacks; 54% of Asians. And it is split evenly across political persuasions.
That’s not all. Research shows homeschooled kids are better behaved, better socialized, and better read. They are more likely to love America and to worship God. But they are not more likely to be racists, sexists, or disdain science as bigoted, diabolical critics maliciously charge.
The Homeschooling Movement is growing worldwide and across all major demographic groups. It is about freedom to educate one's children as one sees fit.
Homeschooling inhibits the ability of the state to conduct surveillance on families. The Left believes the state is entitled to conduct surveillance on families and that the public education system is the principal instrument of that surveillance. This is totalitarianism. Do American families serve the state, or does the state serve them?
As Lewis Andrew writes, "Homeschoolers insist that their children are not the property of the state. Homeschoolers insist that the purpose of education is to serve the needs and interests of students rather than those of the state. There exists a private sphere of life and not subject to state surveillance and that this sphere covers family life and child-rearing."
Public Schools are Transgressive and Subversive
There is a much more severe problem with our public schools than failing to teach our children to read, write, and do arithmetic despite costing taxpayers twice what they should. They are poisoning the children of this nation with evil propaganda. They have become indoctrination camps for the transgressive and subversive ideology of the Left. By teaching children that evil is good and good is evil, they are driving our youth literally insane through gaslighting, creating cognitive dissonance.
This is because what is taught is controlled by the education establishment, which has three branches: Teachers unions, teachers colleges, and government bureaucrats. All three are the brainchild of the "Father of Modern American Education," John Dewey (1902-1971). He also conceived the accreditation process for schools and colleges and the certification of teachers, making sure all the above were tightly in the grip of anti-Christian, anti-Capitalist, anti-American, and anti-Western Civilization atheist socialists (secular humanists).
Dewey lived long enough to witness his greatest triumph. In 1962-1963, the Supreme Court, by this time under the satanic sway of atheist judges, expelled God, Jesus, the Holy Bible, and prayer from the public schools, where they had peacefully been present for hundreds of years. The religion of Secular Humanism replaced Christianity.
The vast majority of American citizens vehemently opposed these court decisions. No matter. The godless Left ran roughshod over We the People and trampled us underfoot. Keep in mind that America at that time featured the best schools in the world. Those days are long gone.
Since then, one of the most significant influences on the education philosophy of our government schools has been Paulo Freire and his book The Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Freire was named “the foremost radical educator in the world” by The New York Times. His book provides a template for utopian atheist communists who want to use public schools to overthrow America and Western Civilization because they hate Christianity and Capitalism.
The political vehicle for this plot is the Democrat Party. Teachers' unions give 99% of their donations to Democrats. In a recent presidential election, $64 million went to Democrats, $260,000 to Republicans. Teachers' unions are the biggest donors to Democrats. Both keep the other in power. Where do they get the money? From taxpayers of all political stripes who fund the public schools. This means that American citizens are bankrolling the destruction of their own country.
That work has successfully turned children against everything that made America the greatest country in world history. Surveys of Millennials find that they support the sister ideologies of socialism (70%) and communism (35%). They were not taught that these ideologies killed over one hundred million innocent human beings and enslaved billions. Nearly half of them think the Communist Manifesto portrays a better political philosophy than America's founding documents. Two-thirds of them say "America is a racist, sexist country," which it is not. In truth, America is the least racist or sexist country. Millennials are the least likely generation in American history to be proud of their country. Our schools have brainwashed them to loathe it.
The latest trend is to mold students into activists for ‘social change.’ Today, government schools indoctrinate white children—especially boys—into the idea that they should feel guilty for existing because they were born oppressors of the rest of humanity. All other children are brainwashed into the idea that they are oppressed by white people, whom they should resent and hate.
Already conditioned by leftist history and social studies textbooks filled with lies and deceptions, now comes Critical Race Theory, Black Lives Matter teachings, and the phony 1619 Project to render children unable to tell the difference between truth and fiction.
The government bureaucracy that is the Department of Education (DOE) is firmly in the hands of leftist Democrats. We have Jimmy Carter to thank for that. He befouled us with the Civil Service Act of 1978 and the formation of the DOE the following year. These deeds were paybacks to the teachers' unions who elected him president. They accomplished giving enormous new powers to public employee labor unions, especially teachers unions, to decide public policy, and to politicize the entire federal bureaucracy to represent only the worldview of leftists.
Before the Carter presidency, teachers and public-school administrators were roughly 50-50 liberal/conservative, which is as it should be. No more. Slowly but surely, the political views of those who educate our children have gone leftward, far past classical liberalism by now. Eighty-seven percent of high school teachers are Democrats, including 97% of English teachers and 99% of health teachers.
Education has become a jobs program for Democrats. The ratio of teachers to students has steadily risen. Classroom sizes have shrunk, but most shockingly, the number of "administrators and other staff" has grown 709%.
One of the chief weapons to turn children against Christianity has been ‘comprehensive sex education.’ I think any program needs to be judged by how well it achieves its objectives. The purpose of ‘sex ed’ was supposed to be to lower levels of teen pregnancies, abortions, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Instead, it led to an incredible explosion of all three.
The Institute for Research & Evaluation reviewed 60 American comprehensive sexual education studies and 43 studies from other countries. It found zero evidence of any positive contribution made by these programs. It showed that where sex ed is taught, we see more promiscuity, pregnancy, abortion, and STDs, which are now at an all-time high.
With programs designed by Planned Parenthood and the United Nations, the true purpose of sexual education is to inculcate in children the belief that Christian morality is wrong. And therefore, the Christian faith itself is wrong. The main idea is to separate morals from sexuality. To teach Christian beliefs about marriage, family, fornication, promiscuity, adultery, cohabitation, masturbation, homosexual behaviors, and even what constitutes male and female are all wrong. This is, in effect, the Almighty State using its authority to denounce Christianity to our children.
Using sex as a wedge issue, schools turn children against Jesus. In the 1960s, 95% of Americans were Christians, and half went to church on Sunday. Today, we are 70% Christian—far less among the young—and 35% go to church regularly. A study by the American Enterprise Institute finds “Religiosity is heavily affected by government spending on education. While more educated people were not less religious, societies that spent more public money on education were less religious. It is not educational attainment per se that reduces religiosity, but government control of education.”
We know from other research that as Christianity declines, our society no longer thrives, individuals no longer flourish, relationships fray, families fracture, mental health goes down along with physical health, and poverty grows.
The Benefits of Education Freedom
I am in favor of Education Freedom, a.k.a., School Choice. Let the government provide atheistic socialist schools. But allow parents to use their tax dollars to attend Christian schools that teach the glories of free enterprise if they so choose. Let schools compete against each other for students, which will show us what parents want for their children. And in the end, it will reveal to us which model produces the most intelligent adults, with virtuous character, who make the best and most productive citizens.
Give me one good reason why our children should spend most of their waking hours being taught to hate their country, religion, race, family values, and parents? The only reason I hear involves lamentations that School Choice will hurt teachers and destroy the public schools.
It will not hurt good teachers. Good teachers are held back by union wage agreements when they could command much more on the open market, with all sorts of schools competing for their talents. It would hurt bad teachers, which are those the union props up, grants tenure, protects from being rightly fired even for child abuse and makes sure get paid as much as the best teachers. Let’s make teaching a real profession like engineers or doctors, who do not need a union.
Education Freedom will improve public schools. Thirty-one studies on the effect of introducing vouchers for School Choice show the public schools improved in response to competition. One such study in Florida showed that when faced with challengers because of private school vouchers, the outcomes for students who remained in the public school improved, especially the children from low-income families.
We have always had a version of School Choice. Parents who could afford it have long paid more for housing because it was in a ‘good’ school district. Why not give those who cannot afford it a choice in the educational opportunities for their children, too?
We often hear Democrats hold up Scandinavia as the model for America. Sweden has had School Choice since 1982. The Scandinavian model provides free schooling at any school, public or private. This demonstrably benefits the children, society, and the future of a country. A study of Scandinavia shows "the privatization of schooling improved average educational performance both at the end of compulsory school, and in the long run, in terms of high school grades, university attendance, and years of schooling.”
As Joy Pullmann writes in First Things, “Reasonable people disagree over how to teach literacy, numeracy, science, history, and sexual health. Thus, there are only two viable options: Force everyone into one system regardless of their differences or allow people to make their own education choices.”
Education Freedom will take power away from the Almighty State and give it to the Family. There is nothing in the Constitution about government providing schooling. We all have a stake in this even if we have no children or ours are grown. School Choice will produce better adults who will one day be your neighbors and fellow citizens in all walks of life.
Think of it this way. What if the government gave a monopoly to only one restaurant in your neighborhood, and it did not have to compete for customers? Do you think the quality of service would go up and prices would come down? You know the opposite is true.
As Corey DeAngelis of the Reason Foundation observes: “Economic research shows no clear correlation between public education spending and outcomes. We wouldn't have such abysmal results if throwing more taxpayer money at the problem could accomplish anything. Pouring more money into the same broken system won’t fix the deeper problem — government monopolies have weak incentives to cater to the needs of their customers by spending money wisely.”
Brad Polumbo writes for the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), “When government-run schools are the only option, those schools have little incentive to improve. And families having options fosters a competitive system that can deliver results. Schools that perform well will attract more students (and thus more money), while those that underdeliver will bleed students and money. Over time, this will lead to the rise and expansion of effective schools and educational options and the demise of inefficient, broken ones. It’s no coincidence that research has consistently shown that school choice initiatives can raise test scores, increase parent and student satisfaction, and improve graduation rates.”
Things are only getting worse each year. Uniformed guards and metal detectors are becoming common, something unheard of when I was growing up. Nine hundred teachers are threatened with bodily harm every day. One hundred fifty-seven thousand crimes are committed every day in public schools. I say, School Choice Now!
James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 19, 2021:
Oscar Jones ~ Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I appreciate your ideas. I agree with all of your points, especially # 6 and # 7. I am very much on board with those two. Thanks again.
Oscar Jones from Monroeville, Alabama on September 18, 2021:
Yes, here is a post that may apply, #7
Some things that our United States Legislature should pay more attention to:
1) America's contribution to international balance of power
2) the national balance of debt/ adherence to balanced budget
3) controlling the Federal balance of power/allowing States rights
4) the rights of individuals, how much intrusion is necessary/not necessary
5) Protection of our military members and respecting their right to a good life
6) protecting and upholding the United States Constitution, first and second amendments.
7)protecting the right of religious freedom/stopping federal based social and religious preferences from being taught in schools.
James A Watkins (author) from Chicago on September 16, 2021:
T ~ Thank you so much for reading my writings. I am humbly grateful for your awesome accolades. And I see you remain a man of great wit.
T on September 15, 2021:
Awesome article!!!! Just one more exposé on the absolute insanity the left tries to (and has) foist(ed) on America!
James, if I were a woman I’d want to have your baby! (Not so much that I’d go transgender though)