Here in New York City, where the high school drop-out rate is over 50%, public school teachers are paid less than most sanitation workers. (I am not joking. Look it up.) Classes with between 30 and 50 kids to a teacher are not unusual.

The infrastructure is crumbling. A little over a year ago, a brick falling from a decaying school building fell, struck a young student on the head, and killed her.

Just think about that for a minute. In case you forgot, we were at the time enjoying the greatest economic prosperity seen in recent history - or that we are likely to see again for some time.

This is actually, believe it or not, just scratching the surface. There is a whole litany of abuses. The hiring and promotion standards, the assinine standardized tests... I could go on forever.

Let me explain something to you. Education is the single most important thing our government can engage in beyond matters of mortal necessity (i.e. war, police, firefighting, etc). Educators should have the same competitive environment that doctors and lawyers have. They should be highly trained and educated. They should fight over a shortage of lucrative positions.

I would gladly see teachers required to have a PhD equivalent in education, and paid $150,000 - $200,000 a year. I would say, however, that even superman will be unable to accomplish jack shit in a classroom with more than 8-10 children. Class sizes of 4-6 are the ideal.

If this means increasing the money we spend on education in this country 100 fold... so be it. It is money well spent. Education is the best investment any society could ever hope to have the opportunity to make. Crime, apathy, bad government, bad movies, bad driving, bad lovemaking (yes, there's a study)... one hundred pounds of law will not equal one ounce of education.

This we agree on: educational funding really is bullshit.

I should know, I come from a country where the public education system is the number one employer and which spends more on education as a part of GDP than most other countries — and consistently ranks in the bottom quarter of OECD and EU-wide maths and reading tests.

French educational policies date back from the Cold War-era and, since they were thought up by the left, they are worthless and hit the poor and the disadvantaged worst.

Take the carte scolaire, or school map, an invention by which kids are assigned to a public school according to where their parents live, thus ensuring that if you're growing up in a bad neighborhood you have as few chances as possible of getting a good education, and if your parents are rich and live in Paris's 7th or 16th districts on the other hand, you will get a great education, all paid for by the state. Three cheers for perpetuating class inequalities!

Take the seniority rules for teachers, that ensure the young and inexperienced get sent to the bad schools where experience and talent is most needed, while those with the seniority (or rather, the connections) get to teach the bourgeois. Everybody recognizes the need for this rule to change, but doing so would mean tackling the lefty teachers' unions.

Speaking of unions, since they work for their interests and have got the government by the balls (nobody wants teachers to go on strike, and as the whole world knows, going on strike is a national pasttime in France — at least for civil servants, who are unsackable and don't have to work to earn their wages), they lobby incessantly for manpower increases, even as a declining population means less kids are going to school. And the government already pays three persons for every two teaching positions. This unjustified hiring binge leads to dramatic drops in hiring standards: it's not uncommon for people to be hired with 5 or even 3 out of 20 scores on their CAPES (the exam to qualify as a teacher), the equivalent of a D or an F in the US.

This failure of state education has prompted not only the exodus of all parents who can afford them from public schools to paying, private ones, but also the creation of homeschooling corporations that hire teachers to come to your house and teach your kid after school what school couldn't. The biggest of these corporations have performed successful IPOs, and parents pay about as much as they would pay for an independent school, but the problem is the law makes creating such schools very difficult.

Yeah, thank God for socialized education.

We, France like the US, but somehow I think the US is more on track, need to do like top-ranking countries such as Denmark or Finland: we need to empower parents to decide what educations their kids will get, and we need to push schools to compete for parents' attention. This means turning state-owned schools into charter schools, this means abolishing the dreaded school map, this means allowing parents to put their kids in the schools they want by giving them vouchers.

This is the system that allows scandinavian countries to rank at the top of most education tests. It's what works. Why? Because it pushes schools to compete, and gives parents choice. I was a pupil wronged by the education system. I'm a teacher. I aspire to become a parent. So education is something vital to me, and I have a really hard time imagining raising my kids and putting them through a system where I couldn't choose what school they go to, or where I would have to seclude them among other rich kids in their fancy private school if I want them to know how to read by the time they're 12, unlike half the sixth graders here.

I am anxious for the future of this country I live in and love. I am anxious for my kids' future. And in order for that future to be good, there needs to be more of one thing in that future. And that thing is freedom.


Yes, this is a reply-to writeup.

Yes, this has been a rant.

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