A recent commentary by Cal Thomas was titled “Government schools are the shame of this nation.” Thomas takes one situation of poorly performing schools and then paints all public schools in the country with the same brush. It is true that many of our inner-city schools struggle to provide a good education for the children whom they serve. However, Thomas and most other antagonists of public education tend to ignore the societal problems which are so prevalent in the inner cities. These problems have a huge impact on the children who attend school. America will not be able to reform public education until it confronts those issues.
I found it interesting that Thomas held up as an example of good schooling the Sidwell Friends School where President Obama has enrolled his children. Certainly that school provides a high-quality education. However, one wonders why it costs $30,000 a year to educate children who have passed the rigid entrance requirements necessary to gain admission at Sidwell? In Michigan, our public schools have less than a fourth of that amount to carry out their educational responsibility. The public schools, by contrast to Sidwell, must accept all children not just the ones who already score high on standardized tests.
If it takes such a huge amount of money to educate educationally advantaged children, think what is necessary to give an education of equal quality to disadvantaged children! From my perspective, Cal Thomas should consider the disparity in expenditures so evident in his example before he condemns the public schools so broadly.