Pew Research has wrapped up another telling study on our collective view of key American institutions. The question was framed this way... Compared with other developed nations the United State is (best, above average, average, below average)…in each of the categories.
For the ease of conversation, I'm combining the above average and best in the world category into one and comparing it to the below average category. Here's what we find:
#1: Military: 79% to 4%: +75%
#2: Scientific achievement: 54% to 10%: +44%
#3: Standard of Living: 56% to 15%: +41%
#4: Colleges: 51% to 13%: +38%
#5: Economy: 48% to 16%: +32%
#6: Political system: 41% to 29%: + 12%
#7: Health care: 30% to 38%: -8%
#8: Public schools: 19% to 41% -22%
Clearly, we're overwhelmingly positive about our military's capability compared to others around the world. The same is generally true of most aspects of our lives except the big two negatives in this study. More Americans feel our current state of healthcare is worse than most countries and that's especially true of our public education system as well. And it's well founded. We're all keenly aware of the ever-rising cost of healthcare that was only exacerbated by the "Affordable Care Act". Our current path isn't sustainable. The same is true of our public education system. It's telling that only 19% of Americans view our public education as superior to the average other country. Unfortunately, that's well founded as well. The United States has been declining in public education outcomes for 38 consecutive years falling from 2nd to 17th in the world in the process. But what are we doing differently?
We still allow public sector teachers unions to organize against the tax payers they work for with agendas that often aren't related to education of our children specifically. We've increased the funding of public education every year and yet all we hear is that even more money is needed. If you were to spend more money every year for 38 years and every year the results worse when would you do something different? Our public education system is the definition of insanity in motion.
The keys to improvement in both of these areas aren't easy but they're also not complicated. Healthcare and Public Education suffer from the same issue. The lack of price and service transparency. In the case of healthcare, it's the result of the insurance first model that robs us of the ability to become informed and responsible consumers of healthcare. Simply breaking the back of the insurance first model and using health insurance as other forms of consumer insurance would do the trick. In the case of public education, it's the government monopoly for those who can't afford to pay for private education if their public schools aren't up to speed. Simply providing consumer choice, introducing competition via vouchers would do the trick.
But instead we'll do what? Continue to complain? Do more of the same? I'm curious about when we'll get serious about meaningful reforms.