Privatizing Education and Educational Choice: Concepts, Plans, and Experiences

Privatizing Education and Educational Choice: Concepts, Plans, and Experiences

Privatizing Education and Educational Choice: Concepts, Plans, and Experiences

Privatizing Education and Educational Choice: Concepts, Plans, and Experiences

Synopsis

Eighteen experts, including Albert Shanker, Ernest L. Boyer, Thomas Kean, and John Menge, examine the issues surrounding educational choice in public school systems and the voucher system for private schools. They discuss when choice should be considered, methods of implementation, and the extent to which government should be involved. Descriptions and evaluations of choice programs that have been implemented are presented. The book includes contributions from both supporters and opponents of choice presented within an academic framework to enhance examination, debate, and analysis. Since 37 states have adopted legislation that provides some kind of choice in the public education system, the issues involved will be important to school boards, educational administrators, public policy makers, parents, and taxpayers.

Excerpt

Simon Hakim,Paul Seidenstat, and Gary W. Bowman

The National Commission on Excellence in Education stated in its 1983 report A Nation at Risk: "For the first time in the history of our country, the educational skills of our generation will not surpass, will not equal, will not even approach, those of their parents." A more recent study conducted by the Educational Testing Service (The New York Times 1993) revealed that half the adults in the United States are not proficient enough in English to write a letter concerning a billing error or calculate the length of a bus trip from a published schedule. Almost 10 percent of the adults have severe reading and writing difficulties. Between 40 and 44 million Americans perform at the lowest level-unable to calculate the total of a purchase, determine the price difference between two items, enter basic personal information on a form, or locate a street intersection on a road map.

The most revealing symptom of the poor quality of education is performance in the workplace. Inadequate education is considered a major factor in the decline of productivity that is reflected in a decline of the U.S. competitiveness with Eastern Asian and Western European nations. Executives of major Japanese companies have indicated that their lack of interest in building production facilities in the United States is based upon the low educational level of American workers. Further, businesses estimate that they lose between $25 and $30 billion a year in reduced productivity, errors, and accidents attributable to poor literacy. Only 25 percent of the worker population is highly literate.

It is evident that the level and quality of education in the United States is found lacking. Accumulated human capital is crucial for improving the standard of living and maintaining the quality of life in the community and the nation.

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