An education lesson from Australia suggests two ways to improve a lot and quickly.

The headline from an Australia-focused article in The Epoch Times, by Rebecca Zhu, carries a lesson: “Increased School Funding Does Not Lead to Better Performance: Education Minister.”  Here’s the evidence Zhu provides:

Over the last 10 years, the UK has cut spending, while achieving better results in reading, maths, and science.

“In the past decade, the UK has cut per-child school funding by 9 percent in real terms, while also giving principals more freedom over management decisions such as setting staff pay,” Tudge told The Age.

Meanwhile in Australia, Tudge said results from the country’s latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) fell, despite a 38 percent increase in funding over the last decade. PISA is an international assessment measure of student performance across the world.

This is not to say Rhode Island should emulate either country in any particular details; the point is that the money is not the problem.

Rhode Island could take two steps to massively improve education in the state quickly, but the political reality is that we’ll be going in the opposite direction for at least another decade.

First, ban teacher unions.  They are at the center of our inability to impose accountability, our lack of flexibility and innovation, and the division that keeps neighbors from truly working together to improve our investment in our children.

Second, stop with the equity nonsense and other indoctrination and instead focus on teaching.  Period.  Schools are wasting too much time, confusing too many subjects, and blocking off too many strategies for learning by prioritizing the demands of progressive ideology.

As I write this, the state Department of Education just sent out an annual report on the “state of education in Rhode Island.”  It’s full of “equity” talk, with no indication of the fundamental shifts in attitude and accountability our students need.

Throughout the entire picture-rich document, I count a single plain ol’ white kid among the students, and he’s in the background, out-of-focus, and looking away from the viewer.  Superficially, the photos shouldn’t matter but that is an excellent summary of the problem.

Demographics may be changing, but people who identify as “white alone” are still 84% of the state and 71% of those under 18.  Yet, in the eyes of the state Department of Education, that large majority is in the background… looking away.

In short, between the political power of the unions — forcing adult employment to be of greater importance than child achievement — and the ideological distraction of progressivism, our very-expensive government education system cannot and will not improve because actual education of actual students is not anywhere near a top priority.

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