In a recent exchange with a candidate for re-election to the State Board of Education in Texas, I made a suggestion that it might be possible to salvage the current system which is mislabeled as a “public education system”, but that to do so would require several radical steps. (Frankly, I believe it to be a system that is beyond repair, needing to be totally dismantled and tossed into the dustbin of history, but hope springs eternal, and one likes to be polite in approaching candidates who think the office for which they are running is one in which they can possibly do some good.)
The first thing she told me was that, “our hands are tied,” and there is very little the state board of education can do, other than to hold a line on textbook content, and keep the worst textbooks out our classrooms. That is something they do work hard to accomplish, and for the success they have achieved in that area, I must applaud. Let it not be said that I don’t think they are conscientious and hard-working, investing their lives and careers into such a thankless task, however small it is in the overall scheme of things. The fact that the Liberals hate the SBOE in Texas is one of the proofs that they are doing some good. If we had truth in labeling, we would call it the “State Board of Textbook Examination”.
One of the suggestions I made was that we expand and implement a system of Vocational Education, making it available to all students, and mandatory for those who fail to maintain high academic grades, proving that they either cannot cope with the academic rigors of university study, or that they aren’t yet serious enough to be allowed to move in that direction. I knew full well that the SBOE cannot bring this about — it would have to be done by the legislature, signed by the governor, and implemented in the face of huge opposition by all the “education” lobby groups in the state and the nation.
We need to recognize a few facts:
- Many of our high school graduates are functionally illiterate, thanks to social promotions. Many of them cannot read the diplomas they are handed when they walk across the stage. This is a travesty, and the system that has brought us to this point is at fault. My proposal is that any principal or superintendent who allows a student a diploma without having mastered the entire scope and sequence of the textbooks in their classes needs to be fired and forbidden to work in the field in this state. They are liars and pretenders, but they don’t mind taking our tax money and failing to deliver. This is fraud, and they need to go flip burgers – if they can get such a productive job. (Teachers blame the Legislature. The parents blame the teachers who are “teaching for The Test” instead of subject matter. There’s blame enough to go around – so let’s quit pointing fingers and fix the problem!
- A college education is inappropriate for many of our students, who will wind up flipping burgers or working in a service industry after college anyway. They can save time and money by going directly to Burger King. That is, if they can find a job at all. Those who plan to go on to medicine and science and engineering obviously need college. Wouldn’t it be nice if they didn’t have to compete for a desk in the classrooms with party animals who are there on borrowed (taxpayer) money, much of which will never be repaid? This system if fraudulent. The “easy credit” and “free money” is at the root of the problem. (Ask yourself how many people you know who have college degrees who are doing what they studied to do in college. It’s a small percentage.)
- A college education is therefore a huge waste of resources. We have ten times the number of college level classrooms we actually need – we just need to send 90% of the students out to work at the ripe old age of 18 years old, unless they crave an education so much they are willing to overcome to get it.
- American Industry is crying out, not for employees with a college diploma, but for skilled workers in every possible trade.
- Our entire system called “public education” is a disaster, on several fronts:
- Education – F
- Cost-to-benefit ratio: F
- Meeting needs of 21st Century: F
- you name it – in all areas except supporting bureaucratic bloat, it’s a failure.
VOCATIONAL EDUCATION WOULD SAVE BILLIONS. In the interest of economy alone, my recommendation should appeal to all fiscal conservatives.
I don’t expect this to appeal to those who believe that Social Engineering is the duty of the State. That means it will fly in the face of radical humanist and socialist “educators” and Educrats who have owned our public school system for almost a century. Since Humanism and Social Philosophy have dominated the schools which brainwash our teachers for more than 75 years, I can hear the educrats and their unions howling even before I complete this editorial. Since they are the problem, I’m not at all concerned with what they think. They should not even be allowed a voice in this public discussion – they have betrayed a trust, and need to be dismissed. Their sacred cow needs to be slaughtered, and they need to go find productive jobs somewhere else.
If you are a teacher, and you find this offensive, please know that I consider classroom teaching to be the most important mission field in America, if not the world. You have a job to do, and yet the legislature and the educrats have tied your hands in the areas of classroom discipline, of curricula, of methods, etc., so that you are working in a straitjacket to accomplish the almost-impossible job of educating students. And yet, you still manage to strike the spark in a few fertile minds, and set them on a path to swim upstream and get a great education in spite of the system. You are a modern-day hero – that is, if you see your role as such – teaching your students to overcome the very environment in which you are employed. I’m on your side, and you are not the enemy.
On the other hand, if you are teaching in a classroom and you think it’s more important that the students come up with an answer to a math problem by democratic methods, such as voting on the product of two plus two, then you are the very cutting edge of what is wrong in our schools. If you think diversity is more important than truth; if you think that a child who points a stick at another child and says, “Bang!”, is a criminal; if you think it’s the job of schools to guarantee meals for the hungry; if you think those meals must be nutritious, and that it’s important that you protect them from a candy bar, then you are certainly the ones about whom I am speaking. Your social engineering does not belong in my classrooms. That is a concept that was promoted by Karl Marx and Adolph Hitler, and has now come to dominate the entire philosophy of education in this country, and therein lies the problem. We have hired people who think it their job to mold our children in their image of what the next generation should look like and think like, and frankly, that image is an appalling disaster.
We need Local Schools. Locally controlled, in every aspect. That means in funding first, in curriculum selection, in hiring policies, and in the demand for a quality education. What we have are not local schools. They are federal franchises, controlled from top to bottom by bureaucrats and educrats in Washington and Austin.
Are you old enough to remember the debate in the Sixties, about whether “Federal Aid means Federal Control”? Well, the verdict is in. The educrats who promised us that it would never come to that, have passed on to their rewards, one way or the other. Apparently we as a society are just drunk on “easy credit” and “free money”. Until we can develop the cojones to reject all federal funds for Texas schools, we cannot expect to regain control. Like any other drug addict, we have to begin by admitting we have a problem, and resolving to quit taking the drug.
Did an education in the 1920’s and 1930’s have imperfections? Yes, of course it did. But they were nothing like the colossal failure of this grand experiment in brainwashing now before us. I venture to say that American high school students today, across the board and on average, know far less than my generation did in the 60’s, and I assure you, my parents said the same thing about us! Subsequent study and observation has proved to me that my parents were right. The average law student today, having graduated from college, cannot read The Federalist Papers with comprehension. In 1789, the average farmer in upstate New York could read them with perfect comprehension. This devolution of society has been brought to us by the entire “public education system”, which needs to be scrapped.
The deliberate “dumbing down of America” has been documented and proven beyond a shadow of a doubt by Charlotte Iserbyt, in her book by that title.1 Teachers’ colleges train our teachers to become “agents of change” to reshape the values of our children so that they will not reflect the values of their parents. How very noble. The problem is that the teachers themselves are being used as weapons of class warfare, and are not educated enough to recognize this fact. They are pawns in an ideological war, and most don’t even know it.
If the average student today, at somewhere around 9th or 10th grade were to allowed to choose a course of education in one of fifty trades, and then work half days in that industry, spending the other half day in the classroom learning the history, the state, the future, and the theory of that industry, then by the time they graduate at 17 or 18 years old, they should be getting a diploma that recognizes they have completed an Apprenticeship, and are now ready to function as Journeymen in the trade of their calling.
If a student prefers to do what most college graduates are now doing – working in offices – then their study program should be to prepare them type and to file and to operate a switchboard and to deal with customers and to become office managers, if they have what it takes. This saves the cost of four wasted years, and gives them the income of four years. That’s an eight-year leap in productivity!
There are employers everywhere who would love to have serious student apprentices working in their offices, (for free, this is school, remember), learning to file or learning to change oil, or to rebore an engine, or to install an air conditioner, or to frame and wire a house, etc. Many tradesmen would enthusiastically teach their students about the practical knowledge they have acquired since they left school and started getting a real education. What a breath of fresh air.
Colleges today are spending millions of our tax dollars teaching incoming freshmen to do what we just got through spending millions of tax dollars paying our high schools teachers and educrats to do – to read and write and do basic math. This is a national disgrace.
The next time someone tells you that they are a school administrator, express your sympathy and tell them you’ll pray with them that they can find meaningful employment. I hear there’s always a demand for used car salesmen.
In the meantime, we need to start putting pressure on our local school boards, demanding to know why our students in our “independent school district” cannot read and write; demanding that they fire the administrators who do not see to it that they learn to read and write; and demanding that we quit focusing on more expensive buildings, when the ones we have are being used for social engineering instead of education. Local school administrators need to fear what is coming, and either act to change the situation, or get out of the charade and go sell cars.
The school district turns out so many “graduates” every year. Many go to college because they aren’t qualified to hold a job – industry doesn’t want them – they are illiterate and have no work ethic. So they go on to party at college, learning a few good things, and a lot of bad ones, before their childhood is allowed to end and they must go to work. This is child abuse as well, but let me tell you – an 18 year old should not be regarded as a child any more – he/she needs to be carrying his own weight in terms of earning more money than he costs, and giving that money to his parents until he’s able to get out on his own. Have we, as a nation, gone stark raving mad? We coddle children as if they are incapable of working, and they wind up being unable to work, and thinking that Uncle Sugar owes them a living.
This economy is about to come tumbling down around our heads, thanks to socialists of both major parties printing money out of thin air, running up an inexcusable national debt, and now leaving us with a generation that is so poorly educated in the important things of life that it’s scary to think we are going to have to depend on them to help us through the coming economic crisis.
Back to my friendly representative on the State Board of Education. You have to read this for yourself. She said she objects to a system of mandatory vocational education because that is what the socialist countries of Europe have, and look at them! Oh… my… goodness. Where does one start?
Well, first, let’s start with the FACT that we have a system here that is so socialist that Lenin himself could not make it more so – it’s virtually communist! We peasants at the bottom are forced to send our children to government schools, the children are forced to attend. (The State rewards the District with cash for each day of attendance. Absurd.) If they don’t attend the truancy police will be knocking on their doors. The curriculum is written by unelected humanists who hate our religion and our culture, then crammed down our throats by the Police State. Our only duty is to pay for it and to sacrifice our children on their altars. Employers are forbidden by federal and state laws from taking in school drop-outs and giving them an education in a trade, without paying them more than they can possibly be worth in the beginning.
Our system is totally socialistic.
Second, just because Europeans walk in and out of doors, perhaps we should climb in and out of windows – is that the logic here? Has it ever occurred to anyone that Europeans do some things right? I guarantee you, the students graduating from high schools in Germany and Switzerland know far more in the areas of academics than American students do. Look at any study on the subject.2 We spend more money than any other country, yet in a study of 30 comparable countries, we are at or near the bottom in every category.3
We don’t need reform. We need revolution. Vouchers? Don’t make me laugh. For what? To support a history of planned failure? I don’t think so!
We need to dismantle this failed system and replace it with something that works. And it can be done for a fraction of the price. We shouldn’t have to build another school building for three decades. Twenty years ago, so I am told, the ratio of administrators to teachers was 1:5, but today it is 1:1. If that’s true, then I can see where we can save more than 50% in our entire school budget, statewide, starting in June of this year, when 90% of them could be terminated. (Administrators make more money than teachers, to explain my math.) We must reduce the number of educrats above the local school district by 99%, and I am being generous. I can easily be talked in to increasing that number. The ones we keep need to live on a salary that is modest, perhaps on the median income of our community, plus 10%. I’m in a generous mood.
Let’s develop a vision for, and an attitude that demands: Local Schools, Local Control, Local Discipline, Local Funding, once again. And then, just maybe, we’ll see students graduating with a real education once again. If you live in a community that doesn’t meet your standards, then you have a choice – either find one that does, or see to educating your own children. This may mean a private school, whether secular or religious. It may mean home schooling – a phenomenon made necessary by the failed socialist experiment in mis-education. It’s your duty, Dad and Mom. Not the State’s.
There’s the rub – parents have been conditioned to accept the lie that it is the responsibility of the State (socialism) to educate their children, and sadly enough, they have accepted that lie as the truth. Where there is no Vision, the People perish.
America has lost its Vision, and America is perishing. If we hope to turn things around and escape the miasma of public schools, then we are going to have to acquire a Vision of a future where our children are required to study and to learn and to perpetuate the values of their ancestors!
© May 2012, Daniel D. New