January 27, 2011
The day after the president's State of the Union address in which he called for more spending on education came this news: about two-thirds of American fourth-graders failed to show proficiency in science in 2008. That means, according to the government report, the average student is likely to be stumped when asked to interpret a temperature graph or explain an example of a heat transfer.
Seventy percent of eighth-graders and 79 percent of 12th-graders also fell short of science proficiency on the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
If spending money were the key to educational success, these kids would be challenging Chinese and Indian students, who do far better. But ask them about sex and that MTV teen series "Skins" and I'll bet they'd get an "A" on those subjects.
We're teaching the wrong things the wrong way. Education choice would improve more than science proficiency. School choice, not more money, ought to be the rallying cry of every conservative and otherwise sensible Americans who are tired of the education monopoly, the teachers unions and underperforming students.
Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist based in Washington, D.C.