Today’s Case For Vouchers Is Brought To You By The Florida School System

by John Hawkins | December 15, 2004 11:59 pm

Another day, another story about incompetent public school teachers[1]…

“More than half a million Florida students sat in classrooms last year in front of teachers who failed the state’s basic skills tests for teachers.

Many of those students got teachers who struggled to solve high school math problems or whose English skills were so poor, they flunked reading tests designed to measure the very same skills students must master before they can graduate.

These aren’t isolated instances of a few teachers whose test-taking skills don’t match their expertise and training. A Herald-Tribune investigation has found that fully a third of teachers, teachers’ aides and substitutes failed their certification tests at least once.

The Herald-Tribune found teachers who had failed in nearly every school in each of the state’s 67 counties.

But it is the neediest of children who most often get the least-prepared teachers.

Students in Florida’s rural outposts and inner cities, those from housing projects and migrant camps, and those from black and Latino families were far more likely to have a teacher who struggled.

An analysis of the test scores of nearly 100,000 teachers found that children from Florida’s poor neighborhoods were 44 percent more likely than their wealthier peers to have a teacher who failed the certification tests.

…The Department of Education study, the first of its kind, found that students learn less under teachers who had failed more than three times, said DOE spokesman MacKay Jimeson.

Nine percent of teachers failed portions of the tests at least four times, according to the Herald-Tribune study.

….The vast majority of teachers who fail a test eventually pass, usually on the second or third try.

But the Herald-Tribune found teachers who struggled for years to pass the test. Some were never able to pass and received a waiver that awarded them certification anyway.

…The two worst performers on Florida’s exams failed 59 times each. Both are physical education teachers.

Teachers who failed more than 40 times teach everything from middle school social studies and grade school to mentally handicapped and learning disabled children.

Nearly 1,400 teachers failed 10 times or more.

In Miami-Dade County, one teacher failed more than 40 tests. She has taught language arts to middle school students for nearly 10 years.

…Under President George W. Bush’s sweeping education changes, encompassed in the No Child Left Behind Act, every student in the country must have a certified teacher by the 2005-2006 school year.

The law also bans districts from putting more uncertified teachers in poor and minority schools than in wealthy white ones — an attempt to ensure that all children have an equal education.”

Just about anything that’s run by the government is going to be full of incompetent people, tied down with unneccessary red tape, and poorly run compared to private industry. The problem is just endemic to government run agencies and it’s not unique to the public school system. Hell, the reality is that if the government ran all restaurants, we’d all be waiting in line for 25 minutes at lunch every day to get our $9 Mcliver sandwiches in restaurants that lost 50 million dollars a year average.

You want to improve education? Unleash the power of the market with school vouchers. Let the Federal Government give parents a school voucher for the amount of money they’d pay out for their child and then let the parents vote with their feet.

If the parents have a choice between an efficiently run private school and poorly run public school full of teachers who can’t pass the tests they’re giving to the kids they’re teaching, they’ll go to the private. That means the kid will get a better education, our tax dollars will be better spent, and the public school that’s doing a poor job will either have to improve its performance or go out of business as all of its pupils move on to better run private schools.

If we want to improve our public schools, competition is the answer…

Hat tip to Betsy’s Page[2] for finding this story.

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