GUEST POST from Don: Public Schools, part II


Last week we presented a few of the issues which are corruptions of the true purpose of public schools. We presented literally only a fraction of the issues plaguing public schools. Yet, merely decrying the stupidity does not get us to any solutions.

Can it be fixed or improved? Many “solutions” have been proposed and most have been ignored by the public school administrations, teacher unions, and board members. For example, nine years ago I presented an idea to a local school board member. I mentioned the 180 day thing and her response was “we can’t make the school year shorter…there would be more teenage pregnancies.” Is THIS the job of public schools? To keep kids in school more days merely to reduce pregnancies? I’m thinking two things on this issue (#1, why doesn’t public school help teens to be “smarter” than that? #2 why don’t we leave the bulk of this responsibility to parents?) In so many ways, public schools insist on chugging down the same tracks to the bridge that is no longer over the canyon…and taking our kids with them. Some schools just don’t want to do a better job, they pass the blame, have their own agendas, and doing better is not their priority.

Like many other government agencies, public schools have suffered major “mission creep.” They keep adding to their original mission things which were never intended to be, and should not be, their responsibility. [“Mission Creep” is when you stop at the store to pick up a loaf of bread, but come home with 5 bags of groceries, mostly cookies.] These additions may “sound” like good ideas, but are not vitally connected to their core mission. Each consumes more money, time, and educational resources. We could mention a few…Kindergarten, Young 5’s, preschool and day care, free breakfast and lunch programs, sports (I have nothing against sports, but this is NOT a public school core function), cross-city busing … I could go on and on.

I have a partial solution. One that will work for the children you care most about. One which will accomplish the core task. A better solution for some is part of the solution for the whole. Society wins even if only some children get a better deal, right? Plus, I believe, with strong competition public schools may be forced to step up, too.


You may have gotten the impression that the biggest issue is the social engineering of our kids. That’s not it exactly. The actual ISSUE is that we have no reason to TRUST our public schools to get important things right. Let’s explore the 20% failure rate issue in a way that makes sense for every issue raised.

What is the #1 JOB of the public school system? It is to prepare students to be fully-functional adults. Yet 1 in 5 of those we have left in their charge is NOT adult-functional at age 19. PUBLIC SCHOOLS have failed at the ONE CORE PURPOSE they are tasked to accomplish.

If a roofer screwed up on 20% of the roofs he installed, he would be forced to move out of state. If a dentist drilled the wrong tooth 20% of the time, she would be out of business before your next cleaning. If you went to the store and 20% of the fruit was rotting on the shelf, you would go somewhere else to shop. We don’t put up with incompetence anywhere else, do we!!!

Therefore, since public schools are incompetent at performing their main task more than 20% of the time, why should we also entrust them with gender issues, race issues, sex education, and the like? Just thinking about the level of incompetence makes me queasy. Can the public school system get gender issues or race issues right when they can’t even teach basics? I have very little confidence they could! If their failure rate on THIS was over 20% , what then? Why should we permit them? We, who care about our kids, should send ours to a school that is competent at teaching the knowledge and skills MOST important to fully functional adults.

Also, failing to teach kids to function well as adults is very costly. A high number of prison inmates are in this under-served group, as are the homeless and the poor. It is estimated that greater than 1/3 of the money spent on social programs could be preserved if we merely did a better job teaching our kids. (It could SOLVE Social Security and Medicare projected shortfalls).

One more thing: I am not anti-teacher. Students and parents deserve much better. Having talked with many, I know it is infuriating to good teachers that they are not permitted to concentrate on the things which would bring better results.


I believe it is time to create a NATIONAL non-public school system to strongly compete against public schools. If competition is good for consumers of laundry soap, then let’s do it for an issue that is of much greater importance to YOU and America. That is,

1) This non-public national school should be business based; so it makes a profit for the stockholders. (Parents could be those stockholders).
Just like UPS does a better job of moving packages than the USPS, so a national business can do a much better job of teaching children and at a lower cost. A for-profit organization almost always will do things cheaper and better; they know they cannot waste time or money on ineffective systems. Costs are managed by efficiency. For example, they would not hire 1000 different architects to design 1000 school buildings like public schools do. They would not buy desks for 1000 different schools from 275 different vendors. They would standardize salaries and benefits across an entire state instead of from school district to school district.
For profit organizations would have to be MUCH MORE responsive to consumers (parents) than tax-funded schools have been. Their profits are directly tied to performance, unlike public schools which merely have to have a child is in school on “count” day to get your tax money.
How much better than public school would these non-public schools have to perform to be worth the tuition? Considering that Chicago has over 50 schools where no child is competent in math or English, I don’t think there is a very high bar. How difficult could it be to beat THAT?
“Mission Creep” is almost always bad for businesses. They know that the more diverse the goals, the worse the bottom line. However, public schools are rife with the creeps.

Next week, more about this non-public school idea and how it improves education for your children and benefits society. We don’t have to put up with anything just because it is already paid for by our taxes or mandated by government. Don’t plan on Social Security being financially secure (those who will retire in 10 years will face significant reductions). Don’t plan on the US Postal Service getting your payment to the electric company on time (they have failed me more than once). Don’t plan on public schools being good for your children or society (see above).

Copyright 2023 Donald Whelpley

[PLEASE NOTE that Don is always open to discussing the thoughts and opinions he shares here and welcomes comments as shared in the comment section. He doesn’t use other social media platforms, and I do, and won’t see whatever you’d like to share with him elsewhere. ~ Sherry]


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