Sunday, June 04, 2006

Four Horrors of Public Education

I prepared this for something awesome which will be launching in a little while, but in the meantime, here's this:
  1. Abuse and molestation. Unmotivated teachers who find themselves in positions of essentially unlimited power over students abuse them, sexually and otherwise, with a nauseating frequency. According to a study by the American Association of University Women, 9.6 percent of children are abused by an employee of a public school sometime from kindergarten to twelfth grade (United States Department of Education, Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature, 2004).

  2. Hazardous school environments. In the 1999-2000 school year, there were 628 rapes or attempted rapes, 4246 nonrape sexual batteries, 11982 fights involving weapons, and 805939 fights not involving weapons. (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS), 2000) The threat of violence at school is likely to make kids scared of going and to make them have other things on their minds than learning, rendering their education ineffective.

  3. Political agenda-mongering. The existence of the intelligence design movement, as an example, demonstrates the power political agendas have over education (Wedge Document, Discovery Institute, 1998). Private schools may quietly choose between a scientifically-based biology curriculum and a faith-based one, but public schools must have an entire movement founded to pull them in a faith-based direction, along with court battles costing millions of dollars.

  4. Standardization and statistical pandering. Recent efforts to hold public schools “accountable” have resulted in statewide tests for high schoolers. These range from respectably difficult, as in New York, to risible, as in Texas. The ineffectualness of public schools at matching these standards is demonstrated by Texas, where in 2006 11% of high school seniors failed the exit-level exams, while in some schools all students, including special-education students, passed. (Dallas Morning News, 2006) Standardization also hurts college students enrolled in large state schools. Again, Texas serves as an example; the University of Texas at Austin has 37,377 undergraduate students, and though it is among the highest-ranked public universities, many of its students find it difficult to finish in four years because of the sheer number of students all trying to take the same classes. Public education encounters rampant diseconomies of scale.


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