There’s even more bad news this week about America’s failing public school system. It’s bad enough that schools are increasingly controlled by aggressive secularists and that academic standards are falling behind competitors in Asia and Europe, but it seems the system can’t even manage the basics now. Basics like hygiene and cleanliness. Our children are being crammed into filthy schools while money is wasted on imposing the ideologically driven Common Core standards on frustrated teachers.
A survey of Chicago public school principals has just handed in its results, and they’re appalling. Almost half of the schools quizzed have serious problems with cleanliness. The list of faults includes broken furniture, overflowing trash cans, dirty floors, lack of basic supplies like soap and toilet paper and infestations of vermin. Staff, already under pressure, are having to put in extra hours trying to keep their schools in a fit state. It goes without saying that the notorious Chicago Democrat machine is trying to blame the situation on the private contractors who handle cleaning, but worries about standards in public schools aren’t exactly new. In fact many people have been concerned about this – and trying to find a solution – for a long time.
There are alternatives to public schools and for many families they work very well, but they’re not for everyone. Private schools are financially out of reach for a lot of parents, although voucher schemes can help with that. Vouchers also resolve the unfairness of the system where parents who opt for private education still have to subsidize the public schools they’re not using. Even with this assistance, however, not everyone can afford it – and in any case there’s a shortage of private school places in many parts of the country, including some of the areas with the worst public education. Homeschooling is another popular alternative but again a lot of parents can’t do it. With many Americans having to work two or three jobs just to keep their heads above water it can be impossible to give up work to educate children at home – that’s a full time job on its own if you’re going to do it properly.
For millions of people the public school system is the only realistic choice, and that means it needs to be as good as we can make it. No American child should be denied a good education just to meet some politically correct agenda imposed from above, but that’s what’s happening. How can remote officials know what’s best for local schools? They can’t; the country is just too big and too diverse. Forcing a one size fits all education policy on schools isn’t working and we have more than enough evidence of that by now.
The problem in America’s public schools isn’t that private companies are being given cleaning contracts; it’s that the entire system is being undermined by interference from the federal government. Communities are the best level to handle educational policy; local school boards know the staff, know the students and know what the area needs. To return this country’s education system to what it used to be – a world leader – we need to take the power away from the faceless bureaucrats who’ve appropriated it and give it back to the people who can use it best, and that’s the American people themselves.