The Falling Promise of Public Education

by Joseph Phillips

We, the American public, hold it as an article of faith that those responsible for devising and implementing public policy have our best interests at heart. Our best minds are hard at work, striving to make the world a better place. Our elected officials are dedicated to protecting our freedoms, increasing our prosperity, and securing justice for all.

What, then, is the public to assume when, in spite of the best efforts of our most brilliant thinkers and politicians, freedoms erode, prosperity decreases, and for a great many, justice seems elusive? Surely, sinister forces must be at work.

Let us take for an example the nation’s system of public education. For years, American taxpayers have been sold on a triad of public policy fixes for public education. In order to improve student performance, state and federal governments must dedicate a greater portion of their budgetary dollars to education; class sizes must be reduced, and there must be greater oversight by the federal government. So fervent is the belief in this holy trinity of education, that to even ponder the efficacy of the federal Department of Education is seen as heresy. Any politician who attempts to curb the unrestricted flow of tax dollars to public schools is accused of not wanting to “invest in education.”

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