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School problems

Elementary and Secondary (high) school Our students rank near the average or lower compared to other industrialized countries, although there has been some improvement in the last 25 years. Students graduate from high school with poor skills, jeopardizing the competitiveness of the United States (on average - there are pockets of excellence).

Universities - We have the best in the world. The problem is the rest of the world is catching up, and fewer people can afford it. For the type of decent paying jobs now available, a college education is needed.

Elementary and Secondary (high) school

The problems

• the teachers unions are the main problem.  They think the schools exist to give their members good jobs and tenure, not to benefit students.  Many good teachers are frustrated by how their union leadership has let them down. Each comrade teacher at the same level makes the same regardless of performance - this discourages good teachers who then quit.  Companies would go bankrupt if they operated this way.
• teacher compensation rewards time of service, not quality, and doesn’t attract the best
• schools are not held accountable, since customers (students) have no choice
• curriculum has been dumbed down, students aren't challenged
• Black and Hispanic students suffer from cultural low-expectations and peer resistance to performing well.

Failed attempts at solutions

• More money. In the last 20 years the US has more than doubled spending on education, with only modest improvement.

• Standards testing. There has been modest success, but resources have moved to meeting basic standards, and away from creative thinking and more difficult courses needed for future competitiveness

Comprise, Hybrid Solution

A number of commentators, such as Matthew Miller (The 2% Solution) propose a grand compromise of giving teachers the higher pay Democrats want in exchange for the merit pay and school choice that Republicans want.

The costs of the higher pay can be partially offset for new teachers by substituting 401B contributions for pension plans. Existing teachers can elect to keep the pension and forgo the higher current salaries. School choice need not mean vouchers. If applied just to public schools, it simply is a way of allocating the budget.

Disappearing US Advantage

California pays more yet has high class size

Improvement without more costs

Performance Pay

Higher Teacher Salaries

School Choice



Structural causes of problems

- This is more complex than elementary schools, since there are private universities, public research universities, and community colleges with different missions and issues
- research universities use the best professors for post-graduate and research work, shortchanging under grads with part-time professors
- private and research universities are like sports teams - competition has driven costs up, as they compete to be the best and attract the best students
- State funding has decreased, due to pressure from other budget obligations, such as Medicaid and primary and secondary school funding

Failed attempts at solutions

- More financial aid. Some commentators believe this actually contributes to the high tuitions, since it enables universities to charge more. Others point out that the income levels to qualify have gone up, and although there is much more aid than in the past, the amount going to the poorest students has not kept up.

Possible Solution


Why College Costs are High


If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre education performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war. .
"A Nation at Risk"


By 2030 "will we have fixed our dysfunctional elementary and secondary school systems?" Alan Greenspan, "The Age of Turbulence".


Between a quarter and a third of new teachers quit within their first three years on the job. Time Magazine

The Governor's Committee on Education Excellence proposes solutions that put the student interests first - funding based on student needs and that rewards results, along with more support for teachers and a better career ladder.



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