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Upward mobility without warfare

"Upward mobility without warfare" Continued...

Issue: "A warmer Chile," Nov. 9, 2002

Mrs. Matte, after observing close-up education professors in government offices and schoolrooms, was not impressed: "The leftist government says all children must collaborate, work together. But we want an orderly classroom." Drugs, such as the cheap cocaine derivative pasta base (ba-say), obstruct civil order, as does pregnancy: "The leftist government now says to young people, 'do what you want, it's your body.' But we do not want the pregnancy rates to go up. The government says we should teach abstinence, but it provides condoms and birth control pills. This summer condoms were passed out on the beaches. Then the pregnancy rates go up." Smiling sadly, she added, "We are as modern as the United States in this way."

Chile's compassionate conservatives have learned other things as well, Mrs. Matte said: "We have learned from experience in the United States that money itself will not do much. The current government is improving salaries but not pressing for results.... Our teachers are paid by performance. In municipal schools, teachers are paid the same. If they do a bad job they can't be thrown out. Here, if they do a bad job, they are out." When Mrs. Matte and the school's headmaster enter a room, all the students stand up. "You see, the students are in rows. There are many to a class, but they have discipline. Compare that to the municipal schools: You will see many teachers not devoted to children, and children doing nothing. Those teachers don't believe they can make the difference with children from poor families. Have you heard their excuses? Have you seen their dirty bathrooms?" (And I did hear and see.)

Despite its religious teaching-historically Catholic, but now allowing Protestant study as well-and a refusal to follow official pedagogy, Italia receives funds from the government for each student enrolled. The system of payments is not the best, for voucher systems depend on parental involvement, and the Chilean system-checks sent directly to the schools, so that parents do not see so clearly that the choice is theirs-does not create a sense of empowerment. Meanwhile, the government is now "trying to push you to teach certain things in a certain way. Taking care of your body, taking care of ecology, trying to teach the green vision and the idea that the child has a lot of rights over the family."

Nevertheless, Mrs. Matte strongly supports government financing of school choice: "This school could not exist without the vouchers, and vouchers would work even better in your country. I have seen that grassroots people in your country get involved in politics much more than here, so that parents with strong beliefs in the United States will lobby more strongly."

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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