“If crisis is the word we use to describe our health-care system, what word do we reserve for our educational system?” asked Oracle Corp. President and CEO Lawrence J. Ellison at an “Empower
He is not alone in pondering that question. In a recent U.S. Census Bureau survey of American businesses, employers reported that one out of five employees is not fully qualified for the position he or she holds. This “dumbing-down” of the work force soon will hamstring
In March, Moody’s Investors Service sponsored a conference on California’s business climate, at which Lewis Coleman, BankAmerica’s chief financial officer, stressed the need for education reform, asking: “How many people can [subsidiary] Bank of America hire out of the students graduating from high school?”
Ray Irani, chairman, president, and CEO of Occidental Petroleum, advocates addressing educational efficiency. However, efficiency implies results, and right now,
Clearly, if the
The American Legislative Exchange Council’s 1994 “Report Card on American Education” found that none of the top 10 states in student performance ranked in the top 10 in spending per pupil. At least part of the blame for this disconnect must be placed on collective bargaining agreements that transfer scarce resources from the classroom to union members.
There are five salaried non-teachers for every four teachers in
To restore excellence to
Contracting with private enterprise for day-to-day management can improve schools. If outcomes specified in the contracts are unmet, the contractor can be fired. Such reforms are underway in
Charter schools are independent legal entities that, although public, are freed from the onerous regulations that stifle innovation. Most important, these schools are held responsible for outcomes, which are delineated in their “charter.” Currently, 170 charter schools operate in 11 states.
The biggest obstacles to charter schools are the rich and politically powerful teachers’ unions, which see charter schools as a threat to their hegemony.
School choice, a system of publicly funded vouchers redeemed by parents at private or public schools, holds the most promise for turning
Currently, 11 separate private “voucher programs” provide poor, inner-city children with quality education in cities such as
Compare those words with the candid remarks of Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers: “When schoolchildren start paying union dues, I’ll start representing their interests.”
It is clear where educational reform must begin.
Sally C. Pipes is president of the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy, a San Francisco-based think tank that analyzes national economic and social problems and proposes free-market solutions