The 1830s and 40s: Horace Mann, the End of Free-Market Education, and the Rise of Government Schools
Mackinac Center for Public Policy
July 16, 1999
This page from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy gives an excellent...
It's no secret that overall the American public school systems are struggling to provide quality education for children. While costing taxpayers more and more every year, they have achieved no appreciable improvements in academic achievement. So are the taxpayers receiving a good return on their investments?
Total overall costs and per-pupil spending in public education have risen considerably over the past century. Yet studies show that test scores have remained relatively flat or even declined since then. Not only that, but overall graduation rates have failed to increase much, and, all too often the biggest spenders--those school districts shelling out $10,000 or more per student--graduate less than 50 percent of their students. At the same time, the overwhelming majority of teachers receive top performance ratings, even in failing schools; fewer than one percent are rated "unsatisfactory."
So it clearly seems that we are not getting out what we are putting in. Reform is badly needed. What that reform should look like, however, is hotly contested. Those on the Left tend to call for greater funding, more unified teaching standards, higher teaching qualification requirements, and smaller class sizes. Conservatives and libertarians emphasize greater school choice, basing teacher pay on performance, eliminating bureaucratic layers, and restoring local control.
This topic page addresses the question of whether our current education system is giving Americans a good return on their investment. It provides analyses of current public school spending, as well as discussions of proposed solutions aimed at increasing the effectiveness of public education while decreasing its burden on American taxpayers.
Click thumbnails below to view links