by Rick David
Clash Daily Guest Contributor
We’ve heard it all before. “Our schools are failing.” “We need more money for education.” “It’s for the children, the future of our country.” But, no matter how much money we throw at the situation, it never seems to improve. The lottery didn’t save us! The children are not learning basic skills. Having worked at a major educational testing company for ten years, I can testify that the standards, set by politicized state boards of education, have been lowered year after year. And still schools are unable to meet the “No Child Left Behind” goals. Johnny can’t read or make change, but he sure does know the truth about global warming and U.S imperialism.
I recently read something that confirmed some suspicions that I’ve held for years. Titled “How Liberals Captured the Nation through ‘Free’ Education,” by Gary DeMar, the article claims that “The educational elite in America are not interested in education but in full indoctrination into a worldview that accepts the reality of central planners.” I’ve believed for years that indoctrination through compulsory public education has been the Progressive’s primary tool for building a permanent electoral majority.
Without question, Progressives and Socialists have controlled the educational establishment, and consequently the curriculum, for decades. Teacher unions, notably the NEA, have had control over our schools, unhampered by local school boards ever since public employee unions were granted the right to strike. With the assistance of the liberal dominated media, teacher unions have demonized anyone opposed to their agenda as “haters of children.” Their propaganda campaigns have convinced frightened parents that unless their demands were met, the children would suffer.
Massive union support, in the form of both foot soldiers and funds, for liberal politicians at the state and federal level has enabled the unions to have veto power over the educational curriculum in our public schools. The NEA has led the field at Democrat conventions in the number of delegates. The NEA platform, their goals for the classroom, reads like the Communist Manifesto.
Now, the latest liberal solution is a Common Core curriculum, where every school in the nation will have the same curriculum. And who do you suppose will decide what that curriculum will be? The only local parental involvement will come out of their wallets.
I know that there are many decent and dedicated teachers in our classrooms. I have a daughter who loves teaching and children. She works in a non-union, public charter school and doesn’t have the fat salary and pension. But, the administrators in that small charter school, who don’t teach anyone, are making six figure salaries. I also have a son-in-law who teaches in a California public school where a good chunk of his salary goes to the CTA which spends his money to campaign for politicians who are opposed to almost everything he believes. I hope he’s not counting on that state teacher’s pension.
Union rules make it practically impossible to get rid of under-performing teachers. New York City public schools have “rubber rooms” where hundreds of teachers are paid full salaries and benefits to sit all day doing nothing for years. The Los Angeles school district has dealt with a teacher molestation scandal for several years now while the offenders have continued to get full pay.
School districts are not doing well financially either. Budgets are burdened with huge pension deficits. Most teachers have a pretty sweet pension compared to those in the private sector, especially for a nine month job. The only proposed solution is always higher taxes. What is really needed is fundamental reform of the way we educate our children. We need to consider radical proposals.Let’s start with the understanding that there is no U.S. constitutional guarantee of a free public education. Publicly controlled and funded education is in the same situation as the Post Office. The private sector has continually outperformed the government program. Home and private schooled students continually perform better on standardized tests. Of course, the unions are opposed to standardized tests. They are always opposed to any tool for measuring their performance. Defenders of the public system will maintain that they are burdened with students (and their parents) who could not care less about getting educated. But, I question why the rest of us have to pay for the slackers.
Perhaps the solution, just as with the Post Office, is to privatize the entire system. Can you hear the screams from the left? But, think about it. What would this involve? First of all, this would open up a huge market for private enterprise. Well organized private companies would have an opportunity to earn a profit while providing superior service. By introducing choice and competition, parents and students would be able to spend their money where they can get the best results.
The internet is already offering superior educational programs. “The Keystone School is an online high school and middle school that serves students who need flexibility. Whether your student is home schooled, pursues a career in sports or entertainment, travels the world, prefers to take courses on his or her own schedule, or wants more teacher interaction, Keystone is a great option. We offer more than 170 teacher-supported online high school and middle school courses.” “Recognized as the gold standard in K–12 online education, the award-winning K¹² curriculum is created by some of the finest minds in education, including teachers, reading specialists, biologists, mathematicians, and artists. Working with exceptional designers and writers, these experts make learning come alive by combining decades of research from cognitive scientists about how the brain learns with rich, interactive content.” If you want your child to learn Spanish, you will probably have better success with Rosetta Stone than in the local school.
How could average families afford private education? Dissolution of public schools would lead to repeal of the school property tax, thus saving consumers money to spend on education. Once school property taxes are eliminated, even renters would save as competition among landlords would lead to lower rents.
What about the poor students whose parents don’t care? Under the new system these students would be left to their own desires; some will wise up, others won’t. People need to start accepting responsibility for their own success. Enabling failure can only last for so long. The welfare system picks up the cost of caring for these folks now. Public education isn’t reducing welfare rolls.
What about the costs to local governments and school districts? Who pays for earned pension benefits? Sales of all public school facilities to private enterprise would result in a big influx of cash to local government. Local or state governments would assume liability for all pensions based on current earned benefits (they trusted in the government, they can continue to trust).
The union stranglehold on education would be broken. Our schools would cease to function as indoctrination centers for communists. Democrats would have to depend on voluntary campaign contributions.
The beauty of this solution is that it would not require any federal legislation; it could be done on a state and local level! Conservatives: get to work in your states and school districts! Start by abandoning the government schools.
Rick David retired from a career in business in 2011. His experience includes service in the USAF, in medical sales and in operations for an educational testing company. He has a passion for and has been actively engaged in conservative issue advocacy and campaigning for over 30 years. He currently resides in North Liberty, Iowa with his wife of 43 years and travels extensively volunteering in lay ministry.