Broken Education, Flawless Health Care: A Republican Fallacy

When it comes to education, many Republicans like very little of the current system. They believe the system is broken and are using this belief to implement changes.

The changes most of these people would like to see include more charter schools, a merit pay based system of compensation, remove unions from education, reduce pay and benefits for teachers, change or eliminate tenure, offer vouchers, and set standards for achievement.

Unfortunately data shows that none of these ideas has a proven track record of improving our supposedly broken education system. These ideas do, however, conform to the Republicans free market ideology which says that anything the public sector can do; the private sector can do better.

And while Republicans seem perfectly willing to make drastic changes to education using the power of the government when you have this same sort of debate regarding our supposedly broken health care system – Republicans feel differently.

For example while some 80% of Republicans favor privatization of public education only 39% favor privatizing Medicare.

In response to the Independent Payment Advisory Board portion of the Affordable Care Act that sets standards for “best practices” Republicans like Mitt Romney said “Perhaps most troubling of all, Obamacare puts the federal government between you and your doctor” while when talking about setting similar standards for education Jeb Bush stated “I can’t accept the dumbed-down standards and expectations that exist in almost all of our schools today”.

Our world rankings show that the US is in the middle of the pack when it comes to how students perform on international tests yet our health care outcomes are equally as bad, if not worse.

Many believe our education system fails students yet 25% of hospitalized patients are harmed by medical errors accounting for as many as 225,000 deaths per year. In education Republicans blame “bad teachers” and call for new rules and regulations however in the medical field Republicans call for tort reform to limit a doctor’s liability for being a bad doctor.

When it comes to money Republicans believe teachers are overpaid yet US teachers pay ranks 22nd out of 27 countries while medical professionals not only hold the top 8 positions in Forbes best paid jobs - beating out the number 10 ranked CEO’s – but many also rank number one in the world when it comes to salary.

We spend over 50% more on health care than the next country on the list while we spend around 44% less on education than the highest spending country.

While many complain that teachers get too much time off the Wall Street Journal shows that US teachers spend more time instructing students than any other nation and log 1913 hours per year while the average family physician works 43 hours a week with 5 to 7 weeks of paid time off per year for a total of 1926 to 2025 worked per year.

Firing teachers, especially those with tenure, is considered impossible by many yet in states like Texas a tenured teacher is twice as likely to be fired as a physician is to lose his license. And while many complain that it is expensive and time consuming to fire a tenured teacher; according to the American Medical News firing a physician can “take six months and cost about $10,000, while others can take more than a decade and cost $10 million”. Additionally the attrition rate for teachers (16.8%) is nearly three times as high as the attrition rate for physicians (6.1%).

Teachers unions are considered a major problem for improving education yet little is made of the fact that “15% of all hospital workers belong to a union” and union membership is increasing in the healthcare industry.

And even with all this information available that shows just how similar the two systems may be the vast majority of Republicans believe that our education system is broken while 68% of them believe that our healthcare system is the “best in the world”. Ironically these two beliefs exist because of a lack of education.

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