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In his latest weekly column, economist and GMU professor Walter E. Williams presents these facts about where various groups of parents send their own children – private or public schools:
General public: Nationally, 11% of all parents enroll their children in private schools, and 89% of American students attend public schools.
Public School Teachers: Nationally, more than 20% of public school teachers with school-age children enroll them in private schools, or almost twice the 11% rate for the general public.
Philadelphia Public School Teachers: 44% enroll their own children in private schools, or four times the national average.
Cincinnati Public School Teachers: 41% enroll their own children in private schools, more than three times the national rate.
Chicago Public School Teachers: 39% enroll their own children in private schools, more than three times the national average.
Rochester, NY Public School Teachers: 38% enroll their own children in private schools, or more than three times the national rate.
San Francisco-Oakland Public School Teachers: 34% enroll their own children in private schools, slightly more than three times the national average.
New York City Public School Teachers: 33% enroll their own children in private schools, three times the national rate.
Members of Congress: 33% to 44% enroll their children in private schools, three to four times the national average.
Walter concludes that:
The fact that so many public school teachers enroll their own children in private schools ought to raise questions. After all, what would you think, after having accepted a dinner invitation, if you discovered that the owner, chef, waiters and busboys at the restaurant to which you were being taken don’t eat there? That would suggest they have some inside information from which you might benefit.
In a 1995 article in The Freeman called the “Educational Octopus” I wrote:
What would you conclude about the quality of product or service X under the following circumstances?
1. The employees of Airline X and their families are offered free airline tickets as an employee benefit. The employees refuse to travel with their families on Airline X and instead pay full fare on Airline Y when flying.
2. The employees of Automaker X are offered a company car at a substantial discount and they instead buy a car at full price from Automaker Y.
3. Employees at Health Clinic X and their families are offered medical care at no additional cost as a benefit and yet most employees of Clinic X pay out-of-pocket for medical services at Clinic Y.
In each case, the employees’ willingness to pay full price for a competitor’s product or service and forgo their employer’s product or service at a reduced price (or no cost) makes a strong statement about the low quality of X. What makes the inferior quality of X even more obvious is that the employees at Firm X, since they work in the industry, would have better information about product (service) X and product (service) Y than the average person.
What then should we conclude about the quality of public education in the United States given the following facts? Public school teachers send their own children to private schools at a rate more than twice the national average–22 percent of public educators’ children are in private schools compared to the national average of 10 percent.
Bottom Line: Public school teachers are giving public education a failing grade by their disproportionate patronization of private education when it comes to the education of their own children
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