Stupid in America: How We Cheat Our Kids

Check out John Stossel’s ABC News report tonight on “How U.S. Public Schools Are Failing Kids“:

American students fizzle in international comparisons, placing 18th in reading, 22nd in science and 28th in math – behind countries like Poland, Australia and Korea. But why? Are American kids less intelligent? John Stossel looks at the ways the U.S. public education system cheats students out of a quality education in “Stupid in America: How We Cheat Our Kids,” airing this Friday (January 13th) at 10 p.m.

It sounds like Stossel is going to get all Libertarian on some government officials!

There are many factors that contribute to failure in school. A major factor, Stossel finds, is the government’s monopoly over the school system. Parents don’t get to choose where to send their children. In other countries, choice brings competition, and competition improves performance.

Again, this report airs tonight at 10 p.m. EST.

Update by Stephen VanDyke: Demonoid has a torrent to the show.

Another update by Stephen VanDyke: Here’s a local copy of that torrent. If it doesn’t work, you my have to register with the torrent site mentioned before.

  1. “A major factor, Stossel finds, is the government’s monopoly over the school system. Parents don’t get to choose where to send their children. In other countries, choice brings competition, and competition improves performance.”

    Linked to this in a previous post…

    Parents vs. School Officials: Who Decides?

    Not only would an increase in school choice increase competition, and consequently performance, but it would alleviate most of the arguments parents have of whether or not to teach ID, sex-ed, etc in class. But that’s too simple, people don’t seem to have the foresight to imagine such a scenario. One size fits all, impose your will on others…seems to be common with everything else, why not schools?

  2. I just caught the last 45 minutes of it. Pretty good stuff. If anyone finds a torrent, please let me know.

  3. I just watched his program, it was very informative on the monopolies of education.

    I go to a very small school and I all the time hear they want to consolidate us with a larger school and create an even bigger monopoly. It is time the states allow the parents to send their children where they wish.

  4. this was a fantastic show. i just finished my summary/drooling over my new hero john stossel post. what a fantastic job he did getting the message across, seriously.

  5. The problem is the monopoly Big Brother has on K-12 education dumbing down the system and the monopoly the National Education Association (and their union monkeys) have on brainwashing the students.

    John Stossel was excellent. He called it like it is. We can use more reporters like him.

  6. Outstanding TV Production. I am a former teacher who is married to a current teacher. The admin. folks are as non-value added as the NY unions. All admin’s should have to teach one course a year (for one semester) and they would be attuned to the teacher’s real problem — about 8% of the students that are out of control & totally disrupting the entire school (bad apple philosophy). The admin’s cite “fear of legal action” if they do anything; well, lay off 10% of the admin’s, and spend that money on lawyers and tell the parent who wants their kid to slip through school to “bring it on”. I attend a lot of gatherings where current teachers are present and they all view admin’s as big a problem as the “8%” crowd. Unions & Admin’s are about equal. A very interesting school system is in Putnam County, OH; small schools, parent involvement, extremely responisble students, and excellent graduates are produced. (I don’t live in Putnam County, I am just impressed with their efforts).

  7. I wanted to change careers 6 years ago. I have a master’s degree from University of Southern California. My goal was to teach middle or high school.

    Guess what. El Paso County, CO decided my degree was too old as the time it was over 10 years. That excluded me from obtaining a teaching certificate through the local university, UCCS, in Colorado Springs.

    The only way I was ever going to teach, apparently anywhere in Colorado, was to start from scratch and obtain a new degree along with certification to teach, a minimum of 4 years additional education.

    I was considered unqualified to teach. Is it not strange that I could have and still can teach at the local community college or several universities and colleges but am unqualified to teach high school?

    Go figure. Public schools are not in the business of educating students. They are in the business of protecting the beauraracy, employee benefits and job security by minimizing new entrants in the job market.

  8. Julian says:
    El Paso County, CO decided my degree was too old as the time it was over 10 years.

    Ridiculous… Is this normal? I mean, do college degrees have shelf-lives? Never heard of this before.

  9. This was a great show. I should be required viewing for all legislators that have anything to do with education.

    It is sad, but I think you are right Julian, that public schools and the unions and administrators that run them are not in the business of educating students, but rather protecting their jobs, benefits, and power/control. If they truly were more interested in the kids education rather than their job/control they wouldn’t care where a child received there education be it public, private, or home, but rather that they actually received an education. What is worse is that many don’t even seem to care if the students get any education at all as long as they attend the public school and they receive all the benefits that entails such as job security, benefits, unsubstantiated pay raises, control/power, etc.

    Personally I believe education reform may be our most important reform we need to make but will be very challenging with the large bureaucracy in place.

  10. RE: shelf life of college courses/degrees

    I started college at the University of Colorado at Boulder 27 years ago but dropped out about midway through; I returned part-time a decade later but dropped out last year due to lack of funds (they charge part-time students up to twice as much per credit hour as full-time students).

    Depending on the department, CU told me they can require me to retake a class after eight years if they think I don’t have a reasonable mastery of the material, especially if it is a prerequisite for another class in my degree program.

    I’ve noticed I’ve forgotten much of what I learned, but seem to remember more than most people. “Use it or lose it.”

    Most places are only concerned with what you’ve done lately. If a degree is not required, they consider recent work experience. Degrees are considered lifetime, although possibly a minimum qualification.

    The public school monopoly is like a closed shop, though, and can establish its own requirements.

  11. This was an amazing program!

    Although I believe Thomas Paine among others advocated a voucher program, I don’t think I’ve ever heard such thoughts expressed so concisely on a network TV station before.

  12. Here’s my problem with the whole issue: I know that public school teachers want to help the kids learn and that the philosophy behind public education is a good one that even Thomas Jefferson espoused. Hell, I’ll even accept that the administrators would like to provide quality education.

    What really, really pisses me off, however, is when people will keep children trapped in failing government schools because “vouchers could hurt the public education system.”

    If you’re suggesting that the “system” is more important than a child’s future, I have only one thing to say to you.

    “Fuck you and fuck your system.”

    Yours truly,

    …angry libertarian…

  13. At least since Dewey the purpose of the govt school system has been to produce malliable grunts for the local job market which is why a third of govt school teachers (In Seattle, half) send their kids to private schools.

    This country is self segregating into a grunt class and a leader class. If you want your kid to be educated don’t send him to a govt school.

  14. What can we as Americans do to change the way the system works? Many people are simply complacent and go with the program and expect things to change on their own. I want to know what I can do as a parent to make changes happen and not be complacent with this issue.