John Stossell has a great piece detailing some of the overwhelming evidence that competition in education works. Among the examples he provides comes from the poorest parts of the world. He writes:

[James] Tooley is a professor of education policy who spends most of every year in some of the poorest parts of Africa, India and China. For 10 years, he’s studied how poor kids do in “free” government schools and — hold on — private schools. That’s right. In the worst slums, private for-profit schools educate kids better than the government’s schools do.

Tooley finds as many as six private schools in small villages. “The majority of (poor) schoolchildren are in private school, and these schools outperform government schools at a fraction of the teacher cost,” he says.

Why do parents with meager resources pass up “free” government schools and sacrifice to send their children to private schools? Because, as one parent told the BBC, the private owner will do something that’s virtually impossible in America’s government schools: replace teachers who do not teach.

As in America, the elitist establishment in those countries scoffs at the private schools and the parents who choose them. A woman who runs government schools in Nigeria calls such parents “ignoramuses.”

But that can’t be true. Tooley tested kids in both kinds of schools, and the private-school students score better.

Stossel also reminds us that teachers’ unions care about teachers-not about kids. Here’s the quote he includes from D.C. teachers union head, George Parker, explaining why he’s against the voucher program: “Parents are voting with their feet. … As kids continue leaving the system, we will lose teachers. Our very survival depends on having kids in D.C. schools so we’ll have teachers to represent.”

Yes, perhaps this is at the core of so many establishment Democrats’ hostility to education freedom. They see the public school system as a gigantic jobs program. It’s purpose is to provide work for thousands of mediocre teachers; it’s not about educating children at all. At least, when you look at it that way, the system makes a little sense.