Tuesday, January 17, 2006
On this day:

Stupid in America

ABC's John Stossel reports here (ABC News) and here (Reason Magazine) on why your kids are probably dumber than Belgians. (Hint: it has to do with the choices you have when it comes to your children's education; the little boy in the dunce cap can tell you why his mom and dad have so few of them.)

Here's a sampling from Mr. Stossel's ABC News piece:

American schools don't teach as well as schools in other countries because they are government monopolies, and monopolies don't have much incentive to compete. In Belgium, by contrast, the money is attached to the kids — it's a kind of voucher system. Government funds education — at many different kinds of schools — but if a school can't attract students, it goes out of business.

Belgian school principal Kaat Vandensavel told us she works hard to impress parents. She told us, "If we don't offer them what they want for their child, they won't come to our school." She constantly improves the teaching, saying, "You can't afford 10 teachers out of 160 that don't do their work, because the clients will know, and won't come to you again."

"That's normal in Western Europe," Harvard economist Caroline Hoxby told me. "If schools don't perform well, a parent would never be trapped in that school in the same way you could be trapped in the U.S."