As Mike Petrilli noted here yesterday, there’s not much good news in the NAEP results for mathematics, which were released earlier this week. Fourth graders have made no progress since 2007, and 8th graders have made very little progress.
What is worse than sluggish NAEP scores is their combination with steady, substantial increases in per-student spending in public schools. Teachers unions have done well in improving the income and perks of their members, but not the achievement of our students, whose interests have been poorly represented by federal and state legislators and school board members. Only the East Asian countries have sustained high levels of learning at surprisingly low costs, which is substantially attributable to a large private school sector. And Sweden, the one economically advanced Western country with sharp achievement gains, has a national voucher system, which forces schools, including a growing number of educationally and financially successful for-profit schools, to compete for students. If socialist Sweden can substantially improve its school system via choice, why not the United States?