The Occupy movement brought mischief and mayhem to Oakland and several other cities on May Day. But if Occupiers truly wanted to fight inequality and not just mutter about the 1 percent vs. the 99 percent, they would protest the public school system. And if some Occupy leaders read a Tuesday article coauthored by a person they probably despise, former Secretary of State George Shultz, in a publication they probably despise, The Wall Street Journal, they would see why.
Shultz and Hoover Institution senior fellow Eric Hanushek wrote that a failure to reform K-12 schools will lead to not only slow growth but "inequality problems that will plague us for decades if not generations to come." They offer their own state of California as an example:
"Once a leader in education, it is now ranked behind 40 other U.S. states in math achievement, placing it at the level of Greece and foreshadowing a bleak future of ballooning debt and growing income disparity."
Shultz and Hanushek continued:
"The averages mask the truly sad story in the Latino population, soon to become California's dominant demographic group. Hispanics attending school in California perform no better than the average student in Mexico, a level comparable to the typical student in Kazakhstan. An alarming 43% of Hispanic students in California did not complete high school between 2005 and 2009, and only 10% attained a college degree. Anyone worried about income disparity in America should be deeply disturbed."
The leading pushers of inequality in American today are the union leaders of the National Education Association, a once-idealistic group that now works to protect only its own interests. The NEA includes many good teachers, but the organization defends bad schools and protects bad teachers. Competition in education and freedom for educational entrepreneurs would lead to better education for everyone, but especially for the poor, and more job opportunities for better-trained high school graduates.