demands that will be placed on them as they movento higher levels of schooling or into the work place.nPerformance levels are changing very slowly despitenincreases in graduation requirements, relativelynstable enrollments, substantial increases in teachernsalaries, and the continued willingness of the publicnto support its schools . . . Recent educationalnreforms have been instituted in response to some ofnthese problems. The impact of these changes doesnnot yet appear in national data.nThe same source admits that the academic performancenrecord of students, as measured by standardized tests, showsnthat they still cannot perform many ordinary tasks. Only ansmall portion of seventeen-year-olds perform at the highestnproficiency levels. With respect to reading, few studentsneven in the 11th grade can defend their judgments andninterpretations about what they read. Similar deficienciesnshow up in mathematics and science, where performancenhas been low for more than ten years and has improved verynlittle. In 1986, mathematics proficiency of seventeen-yearoldsnwas no higher than in 1973. Tests in the same yearnshowed that 49 percent of seventeen-year-old students werenunable to perform moderately complex procedures.nThe first international study of educational progressnpublished its initial results in 1989. Thirteen-year-olds fromnthe United States and five other countries (Canada, Ireland,nKorea, the United Kingdom, and Spain) were assessed in anstandardized fashion in mathematics proficiency. Studentsnin the United States were in the lowest scoring group.n(International Assessment of Educational Progress, A Worldnof Differences, an International Assessment of Mathematicsnand Science.)nIt is interesting to recall that in 1983 the NationalnCommission on Excellence in Education wanted computernscience instruction to be required of all high-school studentsnas part of its recommended “Five New Basics.” In an1985-86 assessment of computer competence, students inneach of grades 3, 7, and 11 generally averaged less than 50npercent correct on the test items.nThe most quoted general measure of educational ability isnthe Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). After two decades ofnsteady decline in SAT results there was some slight recoverynin 1982, but scores have remained stable since 1985. Inn1988 average scores were significantly lower than they werenin 1963.nThe absence of striking productivity improvements innpublic schooling has not prevented significant rises innteacher rewards. The average annual salary of teachers innelementary and secondary schools increased between 1983nand 1988 by 35.5 percent in current dollars and 12.14npercent in constant dollars. Another benefit that appears tonhave been enjoyed by teachers in most years since 1959 is ansteady reduction in the pupil/teacher ratio. In 1959-60 thisnratio was 26:1. By 1987-88 it had fallen to 17.6:1.nDuring the heated discussion over the published criticismsnof 1983, one predictable suggestion came from theneducational establishment: a major part of the problem, itninsisted, derived from underfunding. Of all the pieces ofnadvice offered, this seems subsequentiy to have been thenmost diligently adopted. Expenditures per pupil in currentndollars grew by 43 percent from $2,955 in 1983 to $4,211nin 1988. (In constant dollars the increase has been approximatelyn22 percent.)nThe haste to increase expenditures per student is in ‘ncontrast to the recent findings of research on schoolingnfactors that influence student performance. After surveyingn65 studies on the influence of expenditures per pupil.nProfessor Eric A. Hanushek of the University of Rochesternreported in the Journal of Economic Literature that 49nshowed no statistical significance and that of the 16 thatnshowed significance, 3 indicated a negative relationship. Ofn112 studies on the influence of changing teacher/pupilnratios only 23 were statistically significant, 9 in the positivendirection and 14 in the negative direction.nAverage taxpayers and parents can surely be excused fornfeeling considerable frustration and confusion in the face ofnthe failure of the public school reform movement and thenapparent lack of knowledge and leadership concerningnwhere to go next. Observers may be excused also for comingnto the conclusion that the public school lobby’s contributionnto the debate is increasingly self-defensive. Its attempt tonperpetuate an argued potential or an endless dream of then”one best system” (as distinct from reality) is increasinglynsuspect. The same skeptical observers believe that it is timento awaken from “false consciousness” and to reassess thenoriginal arguments for the public system.nAreturn to first principles immediately raises the issue ofnpaternalism. One must acknowledge straightaway annimportant distinction between the freedom of adults and thenfreedom of children. Since children are too young to makenlong-term educational decisions for themselves, grantingnfreedom to them is not feasible. Here we have a case ofninevitable paternalism, and the question is which is the bestnkind to invoke: paternalism within the family or paternalismnby the state? The choice between the two is not as easy as itnlooks at first sight. The situation has been well expressed bynF.A. Hayek in The Constitution of Liberty (1960):nThough it is generally in the best interests ofnchildren that their bodily and mental welfare be leftnin the care of their parents or guardians, this doesnnot mean that parents should have unrestrictednliberty to treat their children as they like. The othernmembers of the community have a genuine stake innthe welfare of the children. The case for requiringnparents or guardians to provide for those underntheir care a certain minimum of education is clearlynvery strong.nJohn Stuart Mill’s view is equally pertinent. The followingnis a quotation from his Principles of Political Economyn(1848):nIn this case [education] the foundation of thenlaissez-faire principal breaks down entirely. Thenperson most interested is not the best judge of thenmatter, nor a competent judge at all. Insane personsnare everywhere regarded as proper objects of thencare of the state. In the case of children and youngnpersons, it is common to say, that though theyncannot judge for themselves, they have their parentsnnnOCTOBER 1990/17n