Every week on Monday morning , the Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum, short takes on a major issue of the day, the culture, or daily living. This week’s question : Can Public Education And The University System Be Fixed?
Stately McDaniel Manor : The most serious problems in K-12 and “higher” education are not what most people think. Conservatives are, at least rhetorically, for local control of education. There we find a situation about as close to actual democracy as is possible in America circa 2016. School board members are often elected by a handful of votes, sometimes, single votes. One can often discuss school issues with board members over the backyard fence or at the local coffee shop.
Instead, we have huge and overbearing state and federal departments of education that exist not to ensure that teachers have all they need to teach as well as possible, but to perpetuate political control and power over others. These days, education has little to do with learning, with building individual bigger, better brains, but everything to do with mandatory, high stakes tests and the production of data. It’s big business and cronyism, not building the virtuous citizens necessary for a vibrant, constitutional America.
I lose, easily, three months per year to test preparation. That’s three months my kids will never get back, three months where they will not make the neural connections necessary to properly develop their brains, three months where they will not experience the greatest literature known to man, or further develop their abilities as writers, thinkers and speakers. Instead, they will learn how to take a very specific, single type of test, which once passed, they’ll never take again. This to produce a single data point: their test score.
Whom does it benefit? Not the students, not the schools, not the parents, and not society. It benefits the education bureaucracies and the education publishers who make actual billions by providing the tests and other materials that deny an actual education, but hide it with a blizzard of jargon, powerpoints and empty textbooks.
College? College teachers whine about the poor quality of contemporary students, and establish mini high schools on their campuses to provide remedial classes for unqualified students. These are not students forced on them, but students they actively recruit and accept, not out of the kindness of their Marxist hearts, but because their tuition checks clear the bank.
Why aren’t they qualified? Three primary reasons: the K-12 testing culture where kids are ruthlessly tested, benchmark tested, tested to see if they’re prepared for the test, and SAT tested, turns kids into automatons able to take those tests, and that’s about it. How do colleges address it? By accepting just about anybody even though they know they won’t be able to do actual college level work. They suck them dry, send them into decades of debt with no skills or credentials to pay it off, and when the drop out, could care less.
Oh, the third reason? Not everyone is smart enough–they don’t have a sufficiently high IQ–to do genuine college work. We have no trouble accepting that not everyone will be able to play on the varsity basketball team, but bridle at the idea that some people just aren’t as smart as others.
But hey, that’s “accountability.” That’s “no child left behind,” and “the race to the top.” I don’t recognize conservatism anymore, not as it applies to education.
JoshuaPundit: You can’t ‘fix’ something this perverted and screwed up. You have to rebuild it. There are two ways to do it, I think. One way simply gets the federal and state bureaucracies out of government, mandating full local control combined with a strong federally mandated voucher program for accredited private schools and homeschooling programs allowing parents to opt out from the whole corrupt system.
The idea of course is that while parents vote with their feet the schools will be motivated to provide a better product for that all important head count to keep their funding coming in (it’s unlikely that most states would axe their own DOEs). Unfortunately, given whom runs a number of states and municipalities, and the union politics involved, that motivation is unlikely to mean much.And ultimately, a lot of the same people would be in charge.
A second way, one that tickles me immensely is to use the vast edu-bureaucracy the Left created against it. They, after all, have created a system where the feds can twist arms to get what they want because of the funding they provide. Imagine this scenario implemented along with the reforms I proposed above:
- All public schools would be required to establish ‘discipline standards.’ This would involve mandatory dress codes, written standards of expected conduct including how teachers and principles are addressed (In Barbados and other countries whom use the British system, students are required to stand when addressing a teacher rather than slouching at their desks and call them ‘Sir’, ‘Miss’ or ‘Mrs’, for instance) and a ‘zero tolerance’ policy with a requirement for local jurisdictions to create a designated school for repeat offenders to prevent them from stopping others from learning and provide some badly needed correction.
- While curriculum could be chosen by individual schools to a degree, all would have to use textbooks and materials certified by the Federal DOE. This would be especially true of Liberal Studies such as history, civics and the like. Ditto with those infamous ‘required reading’ lists, another important way the left spreads its dogma. Needless to say, the new DOE would not certify textbooks and materials written by the usual Marxist clowns like Howard Zinn. The certified texts and materials would be specifically chosen to expand young minds, foster patriotism and teach the miracle that is our Republic.
- The New DOE would also monitor and approve teacher education standards.
- The new DOE would also recommend non-denominational prayer in schools to start each morning along with the Pledge of Allegiance. Students whom for religious reasons wish to be exempted could be excused. An executive order to put this in place would be fine with me, and probably a majority of parents.
- No ‘closed shop’ schools would be eligible for federal funding of any kind.
- The federal DOE would partner extensively with private industry to provide apprenticeships and vocational training for the non-college bound and widely publicize these opportunities.
- Given that many of the brick and mortar universities have become Leftist cesspools and havens for tenured radicals, the best way to correct that situation (which will take at least a generation) is to starve them of funds and compete with them. The new DOE would create certified, extensive online degree programs for most of the liberal arts programs and some of the preliminary math and science ones that could be completed in a year or so at a fraction of the cost families now pay for ‘the college experience.’
Such programs exist today. My beloved daughter wanted to go into teaching special ed. She has been working for the past year as a teaching assistant in New York in one of the best schools of that kind there while taking an online, fully accredited course for her BA. She will have completed it at a cost far less than an equivalent 4 year university without any debt (the course allows monthly payments) and will start her masters program in September, which will take her another year and a half and includes her being a credentialed teacher in New York state for further work experience at the same time. In two and a half years, she will have her masters along with an equivalent amount of work experience on her resume’ along with zero debt for her or for us. Imagine that kind of success story repeated nationwide.
The idea of using the Left’s mechanism against it brings a smile to my face!
Laura Rambeau Lee, Right Reason :Yes! Eliminate the US Department of Education. Our public education system is being controlled by the federal government. The U.S. Department of Education ( DoED) originated in 1979 under the presidency of Jimmy Carter. In his 1980 presidential campaign Reagan called for the elimination of the DoED and while he was president he cut its budget severely. But since Reagan the DoED budget has grown tremendously. Here we are less than four decades later and the federal government pretty much controls our public schools. The latest insanity from the government, the transgender bathroom and locker room mandate, is being forced on us through the threat of withholding federal funds for non-compliance. As with so many of the federal government’s executive agencies they are able to expand their reach into every facet of our lives. Early on the Democrats promoted federal involvement in public education while the Republican platform vowed many times to eliminate the DoED. Conservatives believe the federal government should not be involved in education. It is not mentioned in the Constitution and by its omission this responsibility was left to the states or the people to decide. This is no longer a D or R issue as progressives have infiltrated both parties. George W. Bush pushed Race to the Top which morphed into No Child Left Behind under Barack Obama. Common Core is the latest evil incarnation.
One issue which does not get brought up is the fact that our entire public education system has been essentially turned over to private corporations. They discovered that in addition to being able to indoctrinate the younger generation to a “global” philosophy where social, economic and environmental justice must be the goal of everyone, there is quite lot of money to be made in education. Our hard earned tax dollars are being confiscated and redistributed to wealthy corporations who turn out the textbooks and learning materials indoctrinating our children. What began as a few charter schools with promises of advanced and better education for our children has led to the complete corporatization of our schools. It is big business and people like Bill and Melinda Gates, the Rockefellers and Pearson are creating the curricula and making money off of the software, hardware, materials, and testing. They are not only making billions of dollars, they are also gathering much desired data from our children for future use. They call it college and career ready.
Since so much of the material comes from private corporations and is proprietary we are not permitted to see much of it except what is being shared by parents and teachers. Having grandchildren in school I’ve gotten to see a lot of the worksheets and from what I have seen I find it very sloppy, age inappropriate, and confusing even for adults. The books they are reading are riddled with emotional content also inappropriate for their ages. Much of the reading material is depressing; stories about horribly handicapped children or children subjected to physical or sexual abuse or bullying. These are books being read by third and fourth graders! Eight, nine and ten year old children are being asked to put themselves in the place of the characters in the story and answer questions from their perspective. This is the age when a child is most impressionable and susceptible to indoctrination. The “elites” creating this material know this as do most educators and child development experts. This is child abuse.
Also, what is happening is the older teachers are being forced out or leaving early due to the constant testing and pressure to perform. They can’t teach the children like they used to. A good teacher knows children have different learning abilities and will teach to those abilities. Today the lessons are all scripted and there can be no veering from the script. The young teachers coming out of college have learned to be facilitators, not teachers.
As far as the university system, they have all been taken over by what we used to call liberals but have in recent years shown themselves to be full blown Marxists and communists and are unashamed to espouse its ideology. Unfortunately the children coming out of our primary and secondary public school system have already been indoctrinated so college is just an extension of what they have been hearing for years. Is it any wonder why millennials support avowed socialist Bernie Sanders?
I do believe it’s time for a Million Mom March on Washington.
Well, there you have it.
Make sure to tune in every Monday for the Watcher’s Forum. And remember, every Wednesday, the Council has its weekly contest with the members nominating two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. The votes are cast by the Council, and the results are posted on Friday morning.
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