Thursday, September 07, 2023


By John Hinderaker | Powerline

America’s public schools are almost unbelievably bad, to a degree that poses an existential threat to the republic. That’s the bad news. The good news is that most Americans are figuring it out. Rasmussen finds that a 36% plurality say that our public schools are poor. That is a remarkable finding. A sadly misinformed 9% think our schools are excellent. But that disproportion is revealing. The teachers’ unions aren’t fooling many people anymore.

Minnesota exemplifies the awful performance of our schools as well as any state; perhaps better than most, since at one time Minnesota’s schools had the reputation of being above average. Now they are terrible: 64% of Minnesota’s 11th graders can’t do math at grade level. Nevertheless, they are all going to graduate. Good luck competing with Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, German, and other kids from across the world.

The latest test scores have come out in our state, and my colleague Catrin Wigfall explains at “Majority of Minnesota students aren’t meeting reading and math standards.”

As measured by the 2023 Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs), 50.3 percent of tested students do not meet grade-level reading standards, and 54.7 percent do not meet grade-level math standards.

It is a landmark of sorts: a majority of K-12 kids in Minnesota can’t either read or do math at grade level. Why is that? Is it because of a shortage of resources?

Just kidding. Minnesota, like the rest of America, has conducted a decades-long experiment, spending more and more money on public schools and hoping to get better results. That approach has been a dismal failure. Catrin prepared this chart, which tells the whole story. Spending per pupil goes relentlessly upward, while those pupils’ performance declines:

I started to write that there is no correlation between per pupil spending and performance, but that is incorrect: there is a correlation, but it is negative. The more we spend, the worse our students perform. These data are specific to Minnesota, but I am pretty sure you would see the same pattern across the country.

You might wonder, why doesn’t spending more money yield better results? The most basic reason is that liberals do not spend money in order to obtain results. For liberals, spending more money is the desired result. Because the money goes to them. If you have ever tried to explain to a liberal that one of his programs doesn’t work, you probably have received a blank stare of incomprehension. What’s your point?

To a liberal, spending money, by definition, works. Because the liberal and his allies got the dough. What happens to the purported beneficiaries of the program–here, our children–is utterly irrelevant. Rather than being concerned with education, left-wing teachers’ unions (as they all are) misuse public funds to promote Critical Race Theory and socialism, to advocate leftist principles in general, and to try to convince young children to change their “genders.”

That is why our public schools are astonishingly bad. In the short term, all parents who have alternatives should get their children out of the public schools. But be wary, a lot of private schools–almost all of the “elite” ones–are just as bad, or worse, when it comes to indoctrination.

This trend is reflected in Rasmussen’s polling, which finds that 62% approve of homeschooling for children, while thirty-one percent (31%) disapprove. Currently, I think that around 11% of all American kids are being home schooled. That is great, but for the foreseeable future most children will attend the public schools, which currently are awful. So what should we do?

The best way to improve the public schools is to give more power to parents. But that is a topic for another day.