John Stossel is known for having a libertarianish streak among conservatives, but is beloved by many for his blunt approach to many public policy issues. How he’s lasted at Fox so long is a mystery, especially after the network booted Glenn Beck, and especially Andrew Napolitano, for similar issues. But now he may have just secured his doom. Why?
He has tipped a sacred cow, public schools.
In a column not-so controversially titled, “Let’s call our public schools what they really are — ‘government’ schools,” Stossel mixes no words: He once believed in the great virtue of public schooling as “one of the best parts of America,” but adds, “Then I started reporting on them.”
Yes, actually studying the facts of things often leads to the bursting of mythologies. Stossel admits, “Now I know that public school — government school is a better name — is one of the worst parts of America.”
He gives several reasons why what he calls a “government monopoly” is among the worst aspects of American life: “Government schools are rigid, boring, expensive and more segregated than private schools.”
My opposition to government involvement in education is well-known and based upon principles of biblical freedom. Stossel’s rests on a principle here as well: government monopolies stultify service. He then gives a few pragmatic arguments which are essentially illustrations of this rule.
The first is the obvious contrast with the homeschooling movement, as well as a growing popularity of other alternatives which provide competition to public schools. As government-controlled enterprises go, predictably, “Unions and bureaucrats don’t want competition, and they use their political clout to stifle it.”
“But,” he adds, “gradually, they’re losing.”
Stossel learned that homeschoolers perform better on tests and college admission than public schoolers. He even acknowledges the farce of the number-one argument against homeschoolers: the old “not properly socialized” bugaboo. Ha. Stossel refutes it:
But homeschooled kids participate in all sorts of social events with other homeschooling families — plus theater, ballet, karate and other classes that most kids get and that some only wish they did.
Homeschoolers do just fine. Somehow, without government control, they prosper.
Besides, who decided that a controlled environment made up of rigidly classified, same-age children and a few socialistic bureaucrats is “proper socialization”? Let’s not mention the drug trade in public schools, bullying, and a growing trend of homosexual assaults among young boys, among other things. Those things aside, since when do we entrust the emotional, mental, spiritual, and values development of our children to other children?
But raise a child in a family, church, and business environment where they learn to speak and act like adults among groups of mixed ages and experiences—now that’s “not properly socialized”! After all, these homeschooled children have not learned to twerk for attention or to appreciate government subsidy as a way of life.
One of the most shocking results Stossel learned is the direct opposite of perhaps the greatest liberal dream of government schooling: multiculturalism. He reports,
Defenders of government schools often claim their schools are what create the American “melting pot.” Different races, ethnic groups and income levels mix together in government-funded schools.
Bunk. If it was ever true, it isn’t now.
University of Arkansas education professor Jay Greene examined school classrooms and found that public schools were more likely to be almost entirely white or entirely minority.
He also looked at who sat with whom in school lunchrooms. At private schools, students of different races were more likely to sit together.
These results among others show the failure of public schools in general. Despite tripled amounts of money poured into the failing system, things have only gotten worse. Stossel argues it’s time to take the government’s strangling hands off the system: “If you really care about ‘the public,’ you should let people go where they get the best service.”
A bizarre column in Slate recently, arguing that school choice might drain resources away from government schools, was titled, “If You Send Your Kid to Private School, You Are a Bad Person.”
The columnist wrote, “If every single parent sent every single child to public school, public schools would improve … It could take generations. Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good.”
This is how leftists think. Everyone must jump into the government pot. Even if it is mediocre (or worse), we’re all in this together. Otherwise, the rich will get all the goods, and the poor will suffer.
Don’t they notice that cellphones, cars and air conditioning keep improving yet poor people are able to buy them? No.
They don’t understand that market competition helps everyone, especially the poor.
I think those who want to force a single-government solution on everyone are just confused — but if I were as judgmental as that Slate columnist, I’d be tempted to conclude that they’re bad people.
Stossel gets it. It would be great if the rest of that alleged bastion of right-wing stalwartism known as Fox News would get it, too, and then be so bold as Mr. Stossel in saying so.
Conservative leaders all over—especially among Christians—should recognize the problem and call for full privatization, or at the very least, tax exemption for those who don’t use the system. It’s long past time. I have a feeling they’ll just blame Stossel for being a “libertarian,” but who am I to think Christians and conservatives would embrace such a fallacy?