John Stossel, who has been with ABC's 20/20 since 1981, is moving to Fox Business and Fox News Channel, a place where he should feel comfortable.
Stossel's arch-conservative views have included a support of educational vouchers in newspaper columns, books, and television programs. I addressed that subject in an August 2006 Turner Report post:
ABC reporter and syndicated columnist John Stossel is back to his hobby of attacking public schools in his latest column.
Stossel, the born-again big business booster, who has been bashing public education by taking a few admittedly horrid examples of public education gone awry, and then using those as an excuse to condemn all public schools, continues his mantra that competition cures all ills.
If we had competition in schools, he says, the following would happen:
"I bet we'd see cheap and efficient Costco-like schools, virtual schools where you learn at home on your computer, sports schools, music schools, schools that go all year, schools with uniforms, schools that open early and keep kids later, and, who knows what?"
I am sure that Stossel's sports schools and music schools would enable this country to bridge the highly suspect gap between American students and those in foreign countries, gaps which can nearly always be explained by the simple fact that the American public school system is the only one in the world that even makes an attempt to educate all students, ranging from the gifted to those with severe mental retardation.
Citing another suspect source, Stossel perpetuates the myth that home-school students fare better on standardized tests than public school students:
"Homeschooled students blow past their public-school counterparts in terms of achievement. Brian Ray, who taught in both public and private schools before becoming president of the National Home Education Research Institute, says, "In study after study, children who learn at home consistently score 15-30 percentile points above the national averages," he says. Homeschooled kids also score almost 10 percent higher than the average American high school student on the ACT."
Name me one of those studies. Stossel has made a habit in each of his tirades against public education of saying all sort of studies exist to back his point, but he never indicates specifically which studies these are. This kind of sleight of hand has been going on in anti-public education propaganda since the 1980s when "A Nation At Risk" first alarmed the country about the supposedly horrendous state of American education, yet never cited a single study to prove any of its doom-and-gloom scenarios.
Of course, home schoolers are going to do better. Most home-schooled students do not go on to higher education. You are taking a small percentage of highly motivated home-schooled students. If you compare them with the same small percentage of top public school students, I would guess the scores would be virtually equal. That is not an indictment of public schools. I would imagine there are many parents who provide excellent teaching at home. At the same time, the home schooling trend, like so many others, has been largely started by a group of people who are making big bucks off of it, by exploiting the idea that public education is some big anti-religious establishment that is responsible for everything that is wrong in society.
And let us not forget it who else has made a killing off attacking public education. John Stossel's big business agenda has helped turn him into a highly-paid, much sought after public speaker and has resulted in two best selling books. He has a lot to gain by continuing his scurrilous attacks against public schools.