The national education system is mired in a deep crisis, as funding, teachers, student loans, social, and a myriad of other issues threaten to bring the already declining standards of American education even lower.
A 2009 report from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which measured the performance of 470,000 15-year-old students from 34 OECD countries and another 31 partner countries, in the areas of reading literacy, mathematics literacy, and science literacy, made for some extremely troubling reading. The assessment, conducted every three years, reveals that the United States ranks 17th in reading literacy, 31st in mathematics literacy and 23rd in science literacy - while China comfortably tops each category.
A June 2007 analysis by the EPE Research Center (a division of Editorial Projects in Education), "Diplomas Count: Ready for What? Preparing for College, Careers, and Life After High School" concludes that "an estimated 1.23 million students, or about 30 percent of the class of 2007" failed to graduate. In a similar study conducted last year (Diplomas Count 2011: Beyond High School, Before Baccalaureate - Meaningful Alternatives to a Four-Year Degree), EPE revealed that "nearly 3 out of every 10 students in America's public schools still fail to earn a diploma. That amounts to 1.2 million students falling through the cracks of the high school pipeline every year, or 6,400 students lost every day."
These numbers are staggering, and not simply because of the social implications - it's the economic one that we should be wary of. A high school dropout, according to Professor Cecilia Elene Rose in her 2005 paper, "The Labor Market Consequences of an Inadequate Education," will earn $260,000 less compared to their counterparts with high school diplomas. Additionally, the country will lose approximately "$192 billion 1.6% of GDP -- in combined income and tax revenue losses with each cohort of 18 year olds who never complete high school."
But the story doesn't end there. Americans used to have the second highest rate of college graduates in the world, a figure markedly reflected in the 55-64 age group, which consists of 41% college graduates - coinciding with the nation's post-WWII economic growth. Fast forward three decades later, and we are now languishing in the 16th spot.
There is much to consider here, and it's time to hear what the candidates have to say on the matter.
2012 Libertarian Presidential Nominee
Former Governor of New Mexico
Johnson opines that a federally managed education system is wasteful and inefficient. He advocates the abolishment of the Department of Education and in its place, allow the 50 states to experiment with their own education system.
Hi, I'm Stella Lohmann from Atlanta, Georgia. I've taught in both public and private schools, and now as a substitute teacher I see administrators more focused on satisfying federal mandates, retaining funding, trying not to get sued, while the teachers are jumping through hoops trying to serve up a one-size-fits-all education for their students. What as president would you seriously do about what I consider a massive overreach of big government into the classroom? Thank you.
Bret Baier: That topic is for all candidates. And to get everyone to weigh in, 30 seconds each, please. Governor Johnson?
Gary Johnson: I'm promising to submit a balanced budget to Congress in the year 2013. That's a 43 percent reduction in federal spending. I am going to promise to advocate the abolishment of the federal Department of Education.
The federal Department of Education gives each state 11 cents out of every dollar that every state spends, but it comes with 16 cents worth of strings attached. So what America does not understand is that it's a negative to take federal money. Give it to 50 laboratories of innovation, the states, to improve on, and that's what we'll see: dramatic improvement.
September 22, 2011: Fox News-Google Republican Presidential Debate in Orlando, Florida American education is at a crossroads.
We can either choose to continue down the path of higher costs, poorer results, and top-down thinking, or challenge the status quo by using what actually works rather than what we wish would work. The problem is public education in America is now doing less with more. This is unsustainable for our pocketbooks and, most importantly, unfair to our children.
Now, imagine an educational system that not only educates students better, but also does it for less money every year. It would give each American child the opportunity to choose an individualized education to realize his or her dreams.
#1 Give Education Back to Parents and Teachers
• All parents should have an opportunity to choose which school their children attend.
• Putting educational funds in the hands of the people who use them gives parents and students a vote as to which schools are best and which need to improve.
• Our children deserve the chance to succeed educationally, but the same old way of thinking won't cut it. It's time to free individuals and states from burdensome federal mandates and regulations so they can pursue the right educational strategies for their students.
#2 End the Department of Education
Although it may sound drastic, there are practical reasons why it should be considered.
• The Department of Education grants each state 11 cents out of every dollar it spends on education. Unfortunately, every dollar of this money comes with 16 cents of strings attached. States that accept federal funding lose five cents for every dollar spent on education to pay for federal mandates and regulations, taking millions of dollars out of the classroom.
• Schools should have the authority to decide how best to spend educational dollars. Without federal regulations and mandates, schools could choose to purchase new computers, better lab equipment, and maintain after-school sports and music programs even during times of tight budgets.
• Once citizens and their local representatives have the freedom to decide how their educational funds will be spent, they can consider innovations that will drive student choice, educational competition, and better results.
Campaign Website: garyjohnson.com, Civil Liberties
“Gary Johnson: I was an absolute advocate of home schooling. It just makes all the sense in the world. And I was very much, I was more outspoken regarding school choice than any governor in the country, believing that we needed to bring competition to the public education which is in essence what you’re doing.
Question: Do you support, ending the Department of Education?
Gary Johnson: Yes, and I do that from the standpoint that the federal government gives each states about eleven cents out of every school dollar that every state spends, but it comes with about 16 cents worth of strings attached. And those are the strings that you’re talking about. They’re really making it a negative to take federal money. Just get the states out of education, and yours is a great example I think, of, you’ve taken education on yourself and I dare say your results are going to be, if measured, would be outstanding.
Should everyone emulate what it is you’re doing? On that basis, I don’t think so. But this is the choice that you’ve made and if we were to open up the entire school system to genuine competition on how to deliver education, we would see some startling innovation. Giving it back to the states
Question: How do you feel that, by taking the government out of education that’ll help the family core?
Gary Johnson: Well, yours is the best example, yours is the best example that I think I’ve ever seen. You’ve obviously bonded together as a family unlike perhaps any family I’ve seen.
You’re living on a bus. But because of that, you get to travel all over the country, you get to do things constantly, and I think it’s really cool, just think it’s really cool. I think, I wish I had the same opportunity.
April 23, 2011: Gary Johnson speaking with the Halldorson family on the unschoolbus