For the longest time, conventional wisdom has had it that the best K-12 schools in the nation were in the ones in the blue states of the Northeast where teachers unions are the most powerful, Democrats control the government, and per student spending is the highest. (The definition of a blue state here is one that voted for John Kerry in 2004 while a red state is one that went for George Bush.)
No more. A new reality is emerging.
In his “Blue State Schools: The Shame of the Nation,” Walter Russell Mead comments on the comprehensive study on the nation’s public schools by a panel of education experts for Newsweek magazine.
To quote Mead:
“The [Newsweek] results make depressing reading for the teacher unions: the very best public high schools in the country are heavily concentrated in red states.
“Three of the nation’s ten best public high schools are in Texas — the no-income tax, right-to-work state that blue model defenders like to characterize as America at its worst. Florida, another no-income tax, right-to-work state long misgoverned by the evil and rapacious Bush dynasty, has two of the top ten schools.”
And the Newsweek study is no anomaly. A study published by the Washington Post just this past May ranked Texas and Florida number one and two. Conspicuous by their virtual absence from both top ten lists were blue state public schools. Indeed, only one blue state school made both lists.
These exhaustive studies give further credence to what many observers of our public school system have been saying for a long time. Namely, where the teachers unions are powerful, the public school suffer, suffering both in terms of education cost and the delivery of academic service.
Indeed, this is one of the main points made by Prof. Terry Moe of Stanford in his must read book “Special Interest: Teachers Union and America’s Public Schools” (2011). Using research studies and facts, Moe shows that teachers unions are the main force holding down public education by their ability to block any and all meaningful reform.
This means that SB-5 is more than a public-sector collective bargaining reform. Over time, it can also be a significant factor in improving the academic quality of our schools. Voters need to know the teachers union is a self-interest group that has had — and still is having — a pernicious effect on the education of our children as it pursues its narrow agenda.