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May 15 2015

Isn't It Time to Stop Betraying America's Young?

Charlotte Hays

We’ve had such a busy week at IWF that I almost forgot to remind you that Diana Furchtgott-Roth’s new book Disinherited: How Washington Is Betraying America’s Young hit the book stores on Tuesday.  It was coauthored with Jared Meyer.

It’s an important book that explains how Millennials are short-changed when it comes to education and opportunity and yet will be forced to shoulder the financial burdens of programs their elders in Washington have seen fit to create, without much caring how they will be financed.

John Tamny writes of the book:

A read of Disinherited may offer a clue into why Millennials aren’t totally jazzed about what’s ahead.

Indeed, thanks to the ineptitude of the elders dating back to 2008 when they naively presumed to medicate through bailouts, regulation and government spending what would have been a healthy economic correction, the economy of the present stagnates in a relative sense.  The supposedly wise members of Generations “Greatest,” “Baby Boom” and “X” forgot the essential economic truth that recessions are in fact a happy sign of economic recovery and renewal.  Having forgotten that, their 2008 interventions that continue in various forms to this day have suffocated economic growth.

As the authors forcefully explain it, “young people have been hit the hardest by the recession and slow economic recovery.” They note that the labor-force participation rate among teens and young people “is at the lowest level since the government began keeping records on this in 1948.” Perhaps worse from a progress standpoint, the percentage of 18-24 year-olds living at home reached 56 percent in 2012, “a historic high.”

To avoid signing off for the weekend weekend in a gloom and doom mood, I’d also like to point you to a very good piece Diana has in City Journal one thing that could considerably improve the quality for rising generations: charter schools. Diana believes that it is only charter schools that can rescue public education from the grasp of the teachers’ unions.

An average of tops $13,000 is spend on each student each year in the U.S.  This should be enough to ensure that any student can get an education, yet teachers’ unions, more concerned with their preservation, spend the money in ways that do little to educate students. Unions protect inadequate teachers with seniority and block the hiring of talented, new teachers, for example.

Many of these talented teachers are going to charter schools, which might not provide tenure but allow the teachers to actually teach the young. Furchtgott-Roth writes:

Charter schools offer many of the same benefits as private schools, since they are free from the stranglehold of teachers’ unions. This leaves them able to experiment with and adopt new education methods, including uniforms and stricter discipline, and to attract successful teachers. While teachers’ unions detest charter schools, the public favors charters by a two-to-one margin. Among African-Americans—arguably the biggest beneficiaries of alternative schooling options—support runs greater than three-to-one. Even 38 percent of public school teachers favor charters, while 35 percent are opposed.

But what about the actual effects of charter schools on student achievement? A stunning 94 percent of high school seniors at [charter school teacher] Kimberly Tett’s school are accepted into four-year colleges—compared with about 50 percent at traditional Chicago public schools. Math-proficiency gains are three times higher for students at Kimberly’s school than for those in Chicago district schools, and ACT scores are also higher. Since charter school admittance is determined by lotteries, not by academic record, most of these student improvements are likely a direct result of more effective approaches to teaching.

We’re spending more on education and students are learning less.

There’s a way to change this. It is going to require elected officials ready to buck the teachers’ unions.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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