In some ways much has been said about this country's educational problems, but with all the talk from politicians and others, the problem gets worse with each passing year. There are strident advocates for reforming education, such as Bill Bennett, best selling author and radio talk show host. But even this former Secretary of Education for the Regan administration misses the point that the more federal involvement there is in education, the worse it gets. And the best solution is a state, local and free market one which will eliminate much of the union influence which has driven the resources away from the student and towards teacher benefits for the last forty years.
Mr. Bennett and others in his camp still see a central government solution to the lack of adequate results in the American primary and high school educational system. But education began it's precipitous fall in the 1970s when it was federalized. That was when the Department of Education was created by the Carter administration, and control of the country's educational system was handed over to the unions and people like Bill Ayers. Mr. Bennett's camp suggest that national standards are the magic pill to cure the disease of substandard education. But they fail to understand that countries like South Korea, that kick our butts in education, have no national standards that are set by a central authority. In fact they don't have much of a public school system, not one to which most Korean families aspire to send their children.
The South Korean educational system isn't a system but a free market industry. Education in South Korea is comprised of many private, for profit schools that compete for educational dollars which are controlled by the Korean people themselves. So standards are set by the parents who control the educational purse strings. Families save and live frugally in order to send their children to the school with the best reputation for attaining the highest educational standards and outcomes that they can afford. If a school is not performing, it does not stay in business. And likewise if teachers do not perform, they will find themselves without work. There are public schools in South Korea, but most Korean families consider it a mark of great shame to send their children to such schools, not wanting them to spend their lives as street sweepers or worse.
For at least the last forty years, education in this country has been driven by Leftist policy, which is why we have continued to emulate failure instead of success. Education is illustrative of a myriad of issues that have been degraded by the Lefts insistence on replicating programs and policies that have not worked and ignoring ones that will work, like the South Korean system. The reason is clear, in a South Korean-style educational system there is no central authority that lines the pockets of teachers' unions at the expense of educating children and inculcating them with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed and excel, whether in their local economy or the global one.