Allow Competition in Education

Article excerpt


THE STATE OF AMERICA'S K-12 school system is reminiscent of the steel industry while in its long decline-every player fought to defend its interests, but in the final analysis, the industry failed, at least in its original form.

Similarly, today s school system is an intellectual monopoly in which federal and state education officials, local school hoards and the teachers' unions all think they're doing the right thing, yet the evidence is overwhelming that they aren't. (See cover story, page 22). CEOs know that the system isn't producing enough young people with the right skills and interests. Poor math, science and language skills are the most visible problem. CEOs have been saying "let's fix education" for years and have thrown hundreds of millions of dollars at programs such as "Principal for a Day" or student mentoring. But those solutions have only helped at the margins.

It s time to acknowledge that more sweeping solutions are necessary. They should be built around the notion of competition. Administrators, principals and teachers need to see a connection between performance and pay. Government funds should shift to schools that do the best job.

Charter schools should play a role in creating competition. It's true that some have an ideological or religious agenda. But we believe they are a viable alternative, particularly for kids in urban areas where public education has failed. …