September 17, 2009 8:36AM

Public Schools Should TEACH Lord of the Flies, Not REENACT It

Let the Common School be expanded to its capabilities, let it be worked with the efficiency of which it is susceptible, and nine tenths of the crimes in the penal code would become obsolete; the long catalogue of human ills would be abridged; men would walk more safely by day…
Horace Mann, the father of U.S. public schooling, 1841

How would Mann have reacted, I wonder, to the knowledge that his Common Schools would be expanded beyond his wildest expectations, end up enrolling 50 million children at a cost of over half a trillion dollars annually, and produce results like this:


And of course this attack wasn’t unique. A search for “school fight” on YouTube returns over 100,000 hits. How do private and charter schools compare to traditional public schools when it comes to safety and crime? Have a look at the Heritage Foundation’s recent study of the DC area.

And as for “the efficiency of which” Mann believed public schools were “susceptible,” it’s hard to find any sign of it a century‐​and‐​half into our experiment with them:

U.S. Total Per Pupil Spending vs. Achievement of 17‐​year‐​olds

US Spending and Test Scores -- Cato

Do we wait another century and a half to see if public schools will end crime and start spending efficiently? Or do we give families and taxpayers alternatives today?