America’s Public Schools Are Breaking

The failings of our government school system were put on full display during COVID as schools shut down and the classroom moved to Zoom. 

A new Gallup Poll shows that only 28% of Americans hold a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in our public school system, and given the state of that system, one can only assume those people work for teachers’ unions.

This is the second lowest percentage since Gallup first started tracking the issue in the 1970s, and it isn’t hard to understand why. The failings of our government school system were put on full display during COVID as schools shut down and the classroom moved to Zoom. 

Parents were, often for the first time, presented with the materials their kids were actually being taught and many realized just how much time their kid wasted on a day-to-day basis.

Couple that with the egregious actions of the teachers’ unions—unions that leech off the taxpayers’ dime like a fat tick—who worked to unnecessarily keep schools shut down or enforced ridiculous COVID protocols despite parents’ wishes. They basically held the education system hostage for two years and left us with the bill—which was bound to anger anyone paying even passing attention to the situation.

And this is just the backlash against the policies found in public schools over the past two years, it doesn’t even touch on the abysmal testing results and outcomes for those who go through government schools.

But all of this presents a silver-lining for school choice advocates, who have been working for decades to provide educational options to all families and break kids out of failing government schools. Once seen as a fringe policy proposal, the movement has rapidly gained steam during the COVID-era as families are increasingly looking for more modern options. Why should kids be stuck in government-indoctrination camps for eight hours a day? Especially when they’re not even receiving a quality education in the process, or sometimes not even receiving an education at all thanks to lockdowns.

Over 27,000 kids have fled Los Angeles schools. In New York, they’re projecting enrollment losses of another 30,000 this fall. New York City’s Mayor Eric Adams said, “We have a massive hemorrhaging of students — massive hemorrhaging. We’re in a very dangerous place in the number of students that we are dropping.” According to the Department of Education,120,000 students have abandoned the public school system over the last five years.

This is, quite frankly, freaking phenomenal.

For too long our politicians have sat on their hands and refused to take meaningful action to break up the government’s monopoly on education, and our citizens have paid for it dearly—from a lack of understanding on how to participate in their society, to an inability to understand basic finances and taxes, to being pushed into ghastly student loan burdens for degrees that hold no real value. The failings of this system are evident everywhere, and we all pay for it (via crime, property damage, loss of labor, incarceration, and the welfare state) when citizens aren’t positioned for success in life.

Now is the time for states to act and meet these refugees of the public school system. Families should not have to spend taxes on failing schools they aren’t going to use. Instead, funding should follow the individual student so parents can pick the pathway that’s best for their unique child.

It’s time to defund the fat cats in the teachers’ unions and the administrative end of the school system. That $15,000 per kid per year currently serves no other purpose other than to make them rich. 

School choice would direct those dollars where they belong: to the kids and the actual providers.

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Hannah Cox
Hannah Cox
Hannah Cox is a libertarian-conservative writer and co-founder of BASEDPolitics. She's also the host of the BASEDPolitics podcast and an experienced political activist.