All Candidates Out of Touch on Education

Published October 27, 2006

Dear Editor:

The October 25 candidate roundup, “Candidates sound off on state of education,” was very well done. It revealed this year’s gubernatorial candidates are emblematic of all Texas politicians–not one has a clue about how to stop the runaway costs and deteriorating quality of public education.

We could spend a lot less and still have pathetic schools, but at least parents would have more money to spend on private education. Private and parochial schools do better with less because they have the right attitude: They understand there is no easy way to become educated. Modern public schools avoid the work and accountability, so they fail. Big surprise.

Four of the five candidates think testing is wrong, inaccurate, and unfair, demonstrating how out of touch the system has become. “Teaching to the test” is what education is about. My patients hope I actually passed a test, a hard test, to be a doctor. Improve the tests, don’t ignore them.

Moreover, increasing teacher pay sounds good, but before politicians open the taxpayers’ pocketbooks (again), it might be worthwhile to talk about performance. Bad teachers need to be fired and inspiring teachers rewarded. Blanket pay increases are a waste of money.

Some candidates criticize as “micro-managing” Gov. Perry’s rule that school districts put 65 percent of their budget into the classroom. Most taxpayers would make anything less than the 65 percent requirement a hanging offense. They’ve had enough of money being siphoned away from education for social work and entertainment projects.

The Libertarian proposal for vouchers is looking better all the time to taxpayers who see no hope in the current public school system and a political culture lacking the will for real change.

John Dale Dunn, M.D. J.D. teaches emergency medicine in Fort Hood, Texas and is a resident of Brownwood, His is a policy analyst for the Chicago-based Heartland Institute.