Math and Science Education: Another Example of Government Failure

Today’s New York Times editorializes (rr) about the sorry state of math and science education in grades k-12. The editorial is motivated by this report from the National Academies. The report contains a hodgepodge of incentives for training more teachers, more government spending on sexy, high tech stuff and more corporate welfare. The Times does not think the report goes far enough:

But, commendable as this impulse is, it hardly addresses the central problem of teacher preparation. Many education colleges have become diploma mills where the curriculum has little or nothing to do with the employment needs of the public schools in the state. Thanks to poor planning – or no planning – they place no particular emphasis on training teachers who actually major in subject areas like math and science. The data suggests (sic) that more than 60 percent of the public school students in some areas of math and science learn from teachers who have not majored in the subject taught or have no certification in it.

I tend to agree that we should be providing our kids with more opportunity in math and science. But more government? Give me a break! Instead of union-driven, uniform, soviet-style compensation for all teachers why not the simple, productive solution of markets in education? Let consumers and education providers interact in education markets to determine the compensation of math and science teachers. School choice would lead to smaller government and solve the problem!

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