Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

The Case Against Public Schools

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    NEWSLETTERS

    I don’t have any children. So every time I pass by my neighborhood grade school, and see the little ones running up the steps to beat the attendance bell, I think to myself, “Why the hell should I have to pay taxes to educate someone else’s kids?”

    I’m sure a lot of you feel that way, especially if your kids graduated from school years ago, but you’re still footing the bill. If so, you may agree with me that public education is not only a waste of tax money, but is bad for the children it’s supposed to help.

    Let’s look at two typical Chicago educational institutions. Che Guevara High School, which is run by the Chicago Public Schools, has a dropout rate of 45 percent. Meanwhile, Ayn Rand High School, a private school with a modest tuition of $20,000 a year, has a dropout rate of 5 percent. This tells me two things. First, when people get something for free, they don’t value it. Parents who pay for their children’s education aren’t going to let them throw it away. Second, we’re paying taxes for a public works project that only produces a finished product half the time. If the money we spent on road maintenance only paved half the streets, or only paved one side of every street, we’d feel we were getting ripped off.

    The public schools not only have to take any child who walks in the door, every child is forced by law to attend school. So the 55 percent of Che Guevara High School students who do graduate are getting most of their education in classrooms half-filled with kids who don’t want to be there. If they don’t want to be there, don’t make them. End compulsory education. That would cut the tax burden, even if we don’t eliminate public schools. Let’s face it, most of those kids are only going to need enough education to park cars or stand outside a tax preparation office, wearing a Statue of Liberty costume. Does it take 13 years to prepare for those careers?

    The Chicago Public Schools are so bad that the man who runs them, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, won’t even send his own children there. Emanuel agrees that private schools are superior to public schools. Yet, instead of giving other parents a chance to save money for private school tuition, he raised property taxes to fund the schools he himself disdains.

    Finally, public schools mean public teacher unions. These are unions which get to hire their own bosses, by donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic politician, and turning out votes for them on Election Day. Are these politicians going to say no to a teacher raise, or pass laws that allow superintendents to fire incompetent teachers? I doubt it.

    If we eliminate funding for public schools, we can ensure that those who want and deserve an education receive much better schooling than they’re getting now. Parents can spend money that would have paid for public education to educate their children as they see fit. And my next tax refund check will be big enough to pay for a new lawnmower.
     

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