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Walter Williams
Walter E. Williams
3 Feb 2016
Isn't It Strange?

There is a letter titled "Isn't It Strange?" making the rounds in email boxes. It asks questions to which our … Read More.

26 Jan 2016
Education Insanity

Some credit Albert Einstein, others credit Benjamin Franklin, with the observation that "the definition of … Read More.

19 Jan 2016
Blacks and the Confederacy

Last July, Anthony Hervey, an outspoken black advocate for the Confederate flag, was killed in a car crash. … Read More.

Dumbest Generation Getting Dumber


The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an international comparison of 15-year-olds conducted by The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that measures applied learning and problem-solving ability. In 2006, U.S. students ranked 25th of 30 advanced nations in math and 24th in science. McKinsey & Company, in releasing its report "The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America's Schools" (April 2009) said, "Several other facts paint a worrisome picture. First, the longer American children are in school, the worse they perform compared to their international peers. In recent cross-country comparisons of fourth grade reading, math, and science, US students scored in the top quarter or top half of advanced nations. By age 15 these rankings drop to the bottom half. In other words, American students are farthest behind just as they are about to enter higher education or the workforce." That's a sobering thought. The longer kids are in school and the more money we spend on them, the further behind they get.

While the academic performance of white students is grossly inferior, that of black and Latino students is a national disgrace. The McKinsey report says, "On average, black and Latino students are roughly two to three years of learning behind white students of the same age. This racial gap exists regardless of how it is measured, including both achievement (e.g., test score) and attainment (e.g., graduation rate) measures. Taking the average National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores for math and reading across the fourth and eighth grades, for example, 48 percent of blacks and 43 percent of Latinos are 'below basic,' while only 17 percent of whites are, and this gap exists in every state. A more pronounced racial achievement gap exists in most large urban school districts." Below basic is the category the NAEP uses for students unable to display even partial mastery of knowledge and skills fundamental for proficient work at their grade level.

The teaching establishment and politicians have hoodwinked taxpayers into believing that more money is needed to improve education.

The Washington, D.C., school budget is about the nation's costliest, spending about $15,000 per pupil. Its student/teacher ratio, at 15.2 to 1, is lower than the nation's average. Yet student achievement is just about the lowest in the nation. What's so callous about the Washington situation is about 1,700 children in kindergarten through 12th grade receive the $7,500 annual scholarships in order to escape rotten D.C. public schools, and four times as many apply for the scholarships, yet Congress, beholden to the education establishment, will end funding the school voucher program.

Any long-term solution to our education problems requires the decentralization that can come from competition. Centralization has been massive. In 1930, there were 119,000 school districts across the U.S; today, there are less than 15,000. Control has moved from local communities to the school district, to the state, and to the federal government. Public education has become a highly centralized government-backed monopoly and we shouldn't be surprised by the results. It's a no-brainer that the areas of our lives with the greatest innovation, tailoring of services to individual wants and falling prices are the areas where there is ruthless competition such as computers, food, telephone and clothing industries, and delivery companies such as UPS, Federal Express and electronic bill payments that have begun to undermine the postal monopoly in first-class mail.

At a Washington press conference launching the McKinsey report, Al Sharpton called school reform the civil rights challenge of our time. He said that the enemy of opportunity for blacks in the U.S. was once Jim Crow; today, in a slap at the educational establishment, he said it was "Professor James Crow." Sharpton is only partly correct. School reform is not solely a racial issue; it's a vital issue for the entire nation.

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



2 Comments | Post Comment
Dear Walter Williams, there will never be a balance in public schools, let alone learning anything. It's too government controlled and all the puppets from the National Education down to local ones, are there, as you and I know, to earn a big salary and retirement. Take all the 'Public Schools', 'No Child Left Behind', 'Title Programs', 'Social and Welfare Programs'! What have they created? A society of illegitimates that's causing more terrorism on American soil. Taxpayers cannot afford the jails/prisons, let alone the tax paid attorneys, food, medicine, etc. it takes to keep them alive. When politicians created all these programs, so they could get elected, I'm sure they were thinking they were 'Royalty' and Taxpayers were real fools! The following examples are some of the politicians 'Cart before the Horse' programs with no common sense applied.

‘Pair ready to tackle health care overhaul', states Ms. Sebelius and Ms. DeParle! Taxpayers would like to
know why they haven't already ‘fixed' these things, since they've been around the block a time or two!
Taxpayers say ‘thanks, but no thanks!' Politicians have too much time on their hands. It's obvious this led
Freddie, Fannie, HUD, AIG, Automakers, and anyone else taking Taxpayers' money into bankruptcy! Folks,
these seasoned politicians are all alike! As stated before, Taxpayers need to go back to the ‘pay as you go' for
doctors and hospitals, cutting out the government/insurance offices that have their hands in your pockets.
Their business as usual, lies and deceit have to stop; therefore, ‘Fair Tax', to include property, should be top
priority! Everyone must pay their share, including politicians! Otherwise, it's ‘Discrimination against

Politicians salaries and retirements should be cut to $12,000.00 yearly! If this isn't acceptable, then
Taxpayers will sell them a one-way ticket to the foreign country they sold America to, take assets to pay the
trillions they've borrowed without Taxpayers' consent! After bankrupting America, these are the only
options; unless, of course, they prefer to be sent to Guantanamo, along with all of Americas' killers, rapists,
thieves, and illegitimates, of all races, who roam Americas' street, stealing, maiming, raping, and killing ,who
have made the prison system their way of life, because they get free attorneys, food, housing, and
medication! Since some politicians are no better than the ones sitting in prisons, they should be put to work
together, out of America, making their own clothes, growing their own food, building their own shelters, and
have nothing extra, as this is what they've done to America!

“Putting the cart before the horse”! Thunder Road comes to mind when thinking of politicians taking over,
for the revenue of course, for the Moonshiners, ‘smashing of the stills in them hills, started bottling and
selling the booze, locking you up for drinking it, and furnishing, with Taxpayers' money, an attorney for you,
furnishing you clothes, medicine, food, and a roof over your head. Exorbitant costs and an endless money
pit! Politicians, now, want to build infrastructures without having textile and manufacturing jobs in
America! Surely, they're joking!

Critical issues Taxpayers demand be addressed by the new administration! Since Obama agreed he'd go 'line by line' and eliminate all these 'endless money pits' - Well, what is he waiting for?

Comment: #1
Posted by: Shirley deLong
Wed Jun 3, 2009 6:54 AM
Every public school should be a charter school.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Tom E. Snyder
Wed Jun 3, 2009 11:38 AM
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