Imagine the best school teachers making millions of dollars a year, making more than star baseball players. That’s already happening one country. It’s something I learned from the PBS series School Inc. Here’s part 2 of the Stossel-shortened version of the documentary made by Andrew Coulson. Wouldn’t it be great if the best teachers earned that same remuneration and that same recognition? Well here in Korea, they do! Mr. Choi is a national star. A lot of students have fallen in love with his lectures. In the past, students from outside Seoul had to come take these classes during vacation. But as internet technology improved, kids got the opportunity to listen to great lectures in the comfort of their own homes. There aren’t really many celebrity teachers, so we have to take online courses. He was like a celebrity to us and he actually helped me with the subjects that I did not really do well on. He helps a lot of people. On average over 100,000 students taking my lessons. That’s how he makes millions. And since these most popular teachers make the most money teachers compete within the market to become, like, entertaining and educative at the same time, you know? Teachers competing to be entertaining and educational! That happens in the private education market. Government schools… they’re different. In government schools, the best teachers don’t make more money. Mr Choi is thankful for private schooling. To be able to share the things that you know and get paid for doing that is actually a miracle. America’s private school sector is not yet that robust. But there are now some charter schools That do make a big difference. One of Oakland’s worst schools was gradually turned into the highest-scoring school in California. Every racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic subgroup of students at these schools easily out-performs its statewide peers. And all of them beat the average for wealthier white students. The high school has topped the Washington Post’s list of the nation’s best. Jemila transferred here in 7th grade. This charter was different from her government-run school. It was just a really big transition because the school that I went to, they actually gave me a text book and put us in the back of the classroom to learn and teach ourselves. But the enemies of choice keep trying to kill off their competition. They fight charter schools, vouchers, school tax credits, education savings accounts. They say charter schools are unaccountable, because they’re not run by the state. But real accountability rarely comes from government regulators. Regulators may sleep on the job, or take bribes, or just follow meaningless rules. Real accountability happens when parents get to choose which school gets their money. If there were no regulations at all, wouldn’t some private schools try to take advantage of families? And wouldn’t the most likely victims be children whose parents had little schooling themselves Here in India, a lot of schools are taking advantage of poor families. Back in 1999, a team of researchers made surprise visits to schools around the country. In village after village, they found one type of school that consistently had the worst facilities and the least learning. Most had leaking roofs, and barely any had drinking water. And if you’re wondering why anyone would pay for that that kind of service it turns out there’s a good reason: they have to. The findings I just described are for public schools. This teacher talked with a public school teacher. I said that, “Oh, so what’s been going on with you?” And she said, “Oh, I managed to get a government job. My life is set.” And I said, “Set in what ways?” She said, “Well, I’m never going to be fired. This is a job for life and it pays me well. And I don’t even have to go.” She hasn’t been to school for the last year-and-a-half since she was posted there. Coulson then interviews British education professor James Tooley. Tooley travelled the world to research how the poorest people educate kids. He went to the slums of India And I found something which which changed my life. I found a private school, a low-cost private school in those days charging the equivalent of about one U.S. dollar per month. I found one, and then a second, then a third and soon, I found this federation of low-cost private schools When he told his fellow educators about that, they dismissed his discovery. “What you’ve found is a couple of businessmen ripping off the poor. And anyway, it’s only happening in India. We know about it. “It’s a small thing, you know” And I thought, ripping off the poor? But that’s not what I have seen there. I’ve seen dedicated entrepreneurs who are running schools. They come in on their weekends, and run science fairs, you think, “Okay, this must be charity. maybe the mosques are supporting them, some NGO, some non-government organization is supporting them When you see 5, 10, 15 and you hear 500 of these schools you realize that can’t be the case. There has to be a financially-sustainable business model. I talked to a lot of parents and said, “You’re poor,” you know “Why are you spending money on the private schools when the government schools are free?” I’ll never forget, one said, “In the government schools, our children are abandoned.” And sure enough, I went to see one of these government schools. 130 children sitting on the floor. It’s a government school just around the corner from here, 130 children, all bright-eyed, eager to learn, eager to welcome this stranger in their midst, doing nothing, abandoned. There are government school regulators. Tooley interviewed them, and they admitted that they take bribes. They were quite up front about it. They came, they sat in the office; they sat in a comfortable desk. They took the money; they didn’t even bother to look in the school. They had a nice cup of hot chai and off they went. Dozens of scientific studies have now looked at these budget private schools in India and elsewhere. And what most of them find is that private schools are out-performing government schools that spend three or four times as much per pupil. These parents care about their schooling. They said, “Why are there only 10 computers? Why was their teacher absent last week? They care. They are paying money. And because they’re paying, they will keep the schools accountable. That’s a very important thing which you mess with at your peril. That’s just a sample of Andrew Coulson’s 3 part PBS series, School Inc. You can watch the whole thing on the Free to Choose Network’s Youtube page. Unfortunately, Coulson did not live to see his documentary finished. He died while completing it. School Inc is a wonderful memorial to him and his fine work.