Of Volkswagens and Public Schools

In a story by Capitolwire (paywall), state Rep. Curtis Thomas is quoted as saying, “We cannot ask children to give us Cadillac performance when you give them Volkswagen dollars to work with.”

Rep. Thomas’ remarks are curious for several reasons. Consider these facts: 

Fact: You could actually buy a new Volkswagen for the $15,000 that Pennsylvania public schools spend per student—nearly $3,000 more than the national average.

Fact: 84 percent of Volkswagen owners are satisfied.

Fact: Most voters and parents are dissatisfied with the performance of public schools. 

Fact: More dollars won’t improve academic performance.

On the bright side, lawmakers aren’t just talking about more spending, but are instead advancing meaningful educational reforms. 

Last week, the state House passed HB 805, which would use teacher performance, rather than seniority, during furlough decisions—ensuring our best teachers stay in the classroom.

And just last night, the state Senate passed SB 6, which would create a recovery school district that can intervene in our worst performing schools, potentially rescuing thousand of student trapped in chronically failing schools

Public schools shouldn’t be like factories, spitting students off the assembly line as if they were cars. Educational reforms like these will help put students’ needs first.