Editor, Gettysburg Times,
Regarding Greg Maresca’s well written opinion piece on public vs. private schools in Pennsylvania, I offer my thoughts on this issue. About five decades ago, a professor made the following quote, which I’ll always remember: “If there were no private K-12 schools in the United States, we would have the greatest public school system in the world.” Of course, this makes perfect sense, since responsible parents/guardians would demand excellence from such schools.
However, that is not the case, nor may it ever be. Greg writes that Gov. Tom Wolf vetoed the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC), which offers private and parochial school scholarships to low and middle-income students. That sounds like a wonderful program, though I wonder what percentage of students would have been eligible, had the bill passed. Greg also mentioned the exorbitant tuition costs for private schools such as Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC ($40K) to The Hill School where Gov. Wolf attended as a child. Today, that school costs $60K for boarders. I’m assuming that is the yearly cost.
In light of the above, it is quite obvious the majority of students in the U.S. are forced into an Educational Caste System. Surely, low, working and most middle class families could never afford such tuition expenditures. Thus, children of these citizens are forced into our K-12 public school system. Regarding college, they would most likely take advantage of State institutions and/or community colleges. In my opinion, community colleges give the best bang for the buck, and many of their credits will be accepted into under-grad schools. However, it is very unlikely for a kid to walk into a nearly six-figure salary after graduating from such scholastic institutions, thus the Educational Caste System.
According to Pew Research Center statistics in 2017, the U.S. ranked 24th in science and reading; 38th in math worldwide. I am not an educator, so I have no solutions for the educational deterioration in the United States. Of course, we all have heard the phrase that was popularized in the United States by Mark Twain (among others): “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”
However, I wonder what the statistics would be if public school proficiency ratings were excised from the equation.
Looking at the ‘big picture’ of this condition, it is quite obvious the United States of America had better catch up with the rest of the world.
Perhaps that professor had a point fifty-some years ago.