Stupid In America, now with added st00pidity


Back in January, John Stossel took an extra-stupefying look at why American children go into the system smart and come out dumb. The TV special Stupid In America left a nation dumbstruck and generated a whopping 296 comments from you, the fabulous little people. Now the Gimme A Break man is back, and irate teachers are hot on his tail. Says ABC:

Hundreds of Teachers protested outside ABC after John Stossel aired his special, "Stupid in America". They demanded he "teach for a week" so his cameras would reveal how difficult teaching is. Did they let him? We'll tell you what happened when we update the special during the full hour of 20/20 this Friday, September 1 at 10pm.


School officials complain they need more money, but that's a myth. American schools spend about $10,000 per student, totaling $250,000 plus for a class of 25. Where does that money go? Stossel asks South Carolina school official Dolores Wright, "How much money would be right?" Wright answers,"…Oooh. Millions. And it would really make it right…The more, the better."

The more the better? As John Stossel reports, that's another myth. Most of the countries that outperform us spend less per student than we do. American high school students fizzle in international comparisons, placing well behind countries, much poorer countries like Poland, the Czech Republic and South Korea. American kids do pretty well when they enter public school. A recent study claimed public school 4th graders outperform kids in charter schools, but as time goes on, they do worse. By high school, they are well behind.

Why? Foremost, says Stossel, it's the government's monopoly over the school system, giving parents no choice in where to send their children. In other countries, choice fosters competition, and competition improves performance. Stossel questions government officials, union leaders, parents and students. He also shows some of the innovations that have occurred when choice is allowed.

So are American students stupid? "No, we're not stupid…but we just, we could do better," says one high school student. Another tells Stossel, "I think it has to be something with the school, 'cause I don't think we're stupider."

Stupid In America: How We Are Cheating Our Kids will air at 10:00 pm (big hand straight up, little hand on the one-zero) this Friday.