December 6, 2013

Village Academic Curriculum: Is Our Children Learning?

American students are falling behind the rest of the world.

It may seem like the Department of Education has been around forever – at least, it seems like that’s how long we’ve been debating its usefulness. But that’s not the case. In 1980, Jimmy Carter decided that American kids, who were arguably pretty smart already, could be even smarter if the federal government had a cabinet-level education office. Of course, that meant a lot more spending.

A little over three decades (and hundreds of billions of dollars) later our kids are not doing better in school. In fact, according to the National Assessment of Education – also known as the “nation’s report card” – their academic performance has remained stagnant. This is despite the fact that the yearly expenditure for each child has gone from $6,000 to $12,500 (in constant dollars), or a total K-12 investment of $115,000 per student.

Clearly we’re getting a lousy return, though no one is arguing that we shouldn’t continue to invest in our children’s education. However, we do need to adjust the way we invest, as international statistics bear out. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which administers the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) test to 15-year-old students from 60 countries, found that American students placed 26th in math and science, behind most developed nations. Americans even placed below Vietnam, a developing nation, in math. Overall, American students are performing on the same level as those in the Slovak Republic, which spends only $53,000 per student for their entire education. Of course, leftists’ perpetual answer to everything is to throw more money at the problem. Yet we know that government-reliance is not the path to success, but its largest impediment.

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