March 18, 2011
Is "public education the same thing as "government education?" Dr. Jack Klenk argues it is not, but that the two terms have been conflated, in our time, to mean the same thing.
Dr. Klenk is the author of a new FRC booklet titled, "Who Should Decide How Children Are Educated?." His new publication, which you can download at no charge, answers this probing question through the application of both careful analysis and common sense.
It's a question well worth asking. According to the federal Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics, in constant dollars, spending per pupil in public elementary and secondary schools went from $2,769 in the 1961-62 school year to $10,041 in 2007-07 school year.
What have we gotten for this massive investment? According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, "the reading skills of 12th graders tested in 2005 were significantly worse than those of students in 1992, when a comparable test was first given, and essentially flat since students previously took the exam in 2002."
Jack Klenk believes we can, and must, do better. He makes a strong case that parents should be allowed and empowered to decide how to education their children. Here's an excerpt from his new FRC publication:
"(W)hat we need today is education that serves the public: education where power flows back to parents; where empowered parents are able to choose schools as they see fit (public charter schools, other government schools, private schools, homeschools, cyber schools, or other schools yet to come); where schools of all stripes that offer quality education are free to compete to serve parents; where the success of schools depends more on satisfying parents who freely choose them than on pleasing bureaucracies; and where nongovernmental schools retain their independence."
Dr. Klenk's impressive credentials lend support for his case. He served for twenty-seven years in the U.S. Department of Education under five presidents and eight secretaries. He directed the Office of Non-Public Education which is responsible for fostering the participation of nonpublic school students and teachers in federal education programs and initiatives. Dr. Klenk worked on policies and programs affecting school choice, private schools, home schools, urban faith-based schools, and the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.
"Who Should Decide How Children Are Educated?" is an important contribution to the debate over the future of American education. This is more than an academic discussion -- it's about the well-being of our children and the nation they inherit.