Monday, August 15, 2005


We saw the test scores in the Omaha Public Schools over the weekend in The World-Herald, and we winced. Ouch! And to think they’re spending $8,000 per pupil. For 20 pupils, that’s $160,000 per classroom. Circling the drain . . . going, going. . . . Well, it’s not THAT bad, but it’s not exactly deserving of a berth in the “School Cost-Effectiveness Hall of Fame.”

Plus, they’re suing us for more of our hard-earned tax dollars through more state aid to education for themselves, and they’re attempting to swallow up suburban schools to get still more money from an expanded property-tax base.

Yet the truth is, more money will NOT buy more academic achievement for low-income kids. It just won’t. Never has, never will.

So how come the teachers’ unions and urban school administrators keep crying for more money? Because they don’t know what they don’t want to know, I guess. They’re misinformed, probably on purpose.

And here’s how it probably happened:


The Lie of ‘Inequitable School Funding’

Q. How come Jonathan Kozol was listed in a recent book as one of the 100 Americans who are wrecking this country? I thought his work exposing the problems of inner-city schools has been extremely helpful to improving the educational outcomes of inner-city children. Not so?

You’re referring to the longtime education author and activist whose 1990s book, “Savage Inequalities,” inspired a barrage of equity lawsuits by public school districts against states.

Districts with a disproportionate share of low-income pupils have sought, and often won, larger amounts of tax dollars for education than middle-class schools receive. Billions in extra federal and state tax dollars have been poured into inner-city schools since the 1960s because of the claim that disadvantaged kids were being discriminated against by school financing systems that reward the rich.

Of course, that ignores the overwhelming evidence by educational economists such as Caroline Hoxby of Harvard and Eric Hanushek of the University of Rochester, now Stanford. The evidence shows that racial and class disparities in academic achievement are caused by factors other than money.

When children aren’t getting the basic skills but can’t escape the monopoly schools, the politicized rules of the teachers’ unions, and the erroneous but widespread leftist philosophies of the teachers’ colleges influenced by progressive icons such as Jonathan Kozol, you can spend double or triple the amount of money per child, and they still won’t do as well.

Most everyone outside the education establishment agrees that it’s not the amount of funding that is causing the disparities in academic achievement between black and white, rich and poor – but the abandonment of the teaching of basic skills in inner-city schools by leftist educators who think schools are for social change, not instructing children.

Kozol’s book “On Being a Teacher,” which is popular in ed schools, was based on his study of the school system in communist Cuba. Those schools teach the “deconstruction” of knowledge and skills that is used in communist propaganda. These radically anti-intellectual and anti-individualistic ideas have infiltrated U.S. schools today in the form of whole language and whole math instead of direct instruction in basic reading and math skills, an abhorrence of competition, and an insistence on “academic leveling” in which no child can excel but no child can fall behind. That’s educational Marxism, but few educators realize it.

Kozol was ranked ninth in the book “100 Americans Who are Screwing Up America” by former CBS News correspondent Bernard Goldberg (Medium Cool Communications, 2005).

Ironically, Kozol’s 1967 book, “Death at an Early Age,” which implied that there was widespread institutional racism in urban schools, was a key instigator of court-ordered busing. Busing wound up making urban schools much more segregated and academically and financially shaky than they were before.

Homework: Writer Sol Stern gives an in-depth look at Kozol’s impact on:

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