It’s plain to see that Jimmy Carter’s plan to insure every child would get an equal education by taking arguably the best school system in the world, run by the individual states, and putting control in the hands of the Washington bureaucrats, has evolved into a bureaucratic nightmare. We should have expected nothing less from a government that can’t seem to do very much right these days, and can’t stop its thirst for power and more tax money. I think by now we can all agree, Carter got his wish in that school kids are getting an equal education across the board . . . equally rotten!
Where ever you go we see schools producing illiterates by the millions and spending more money doing it than any other country on earth. According to international journalist and educator Alex Newman, “Three-quarters of American students who earn a high-school diploma are unprepared for college coursework. Thirty percent of high-school graduates can’t pass the U.S. military entrance exam, which is focused on basic reading and math skills. More than 600,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs sit vacant because there aren’t enough qualified candidates to fill them.” Granted the military entrance exams have gotten tougher because of our sophisticated weaponry these days, but such a high failure rate tells you all you need to know about the quality of education being turned out by our schools.
Anyone who has followed the evolution of our federal government since the turn of the twentieth century could have predicted the results even without an education. What Carter gave us was an ineffective Department of Education more interested in increasing the size of its bureaucracy than the quality of education being doled out in the public school system, following a pattern set by every other government Department and agency. The school systems have become institutes of indoctrination run by the Feds, holding our children prisoners.
Carter supporters always site the Carter Administration’s creation of the Department of Education, which took control of public education away from the states, as a way to standardize teaching curriculum. They are quick to defend this blunder by saying it was a good idea and that he should get an “A” for effort. Tell that to the children of families whose kids are stuck in the public school system who are getting a less than credible education, and will face the world ill-prepared to get the best jobs available.
I for one, am sick and tired of being sick and tired (to quote Fannie Lou Hamer, Civil Rights Activist) of wasting taxpayer money on stupid ideas the government has implemented to “make life better for us”. Why shouldn’t liberals be held accountable for their failed plans . . . giving them a pass continues to enable them to try other programs destined for failure and we have to pay for them.
In the first place, the authorization for the takeover of public education can’t be found anywhere in the U.S. Constitution like most of what the government has been doing to us for the last two hundred years. In the second place, the ramifications of the Carter move has led to single-handedly destroying the pursuit of excellence politicians like to quote when discussing our education system. All it has done for the beleaguered taxpayer is throw more of our hard-earned tax dollars down a rat hole.
Today the U.S. spends more money per student than any other country in the world with embarrassing and dwindling student test results akin to an anchor sinking to the bottom of the ocean. The Department of Education has become a full-blown maize that today is so bloated with ineffectual teachers who can’t be fired due to tenure, and more administrators administering to other administrators, that continue to expand their fiefdoms while accomplishing absolutely nothing . . . zero . . . nada. The idiocy of Washington is always, too many chiefs administering to too few Indians (my apologies here to the American Indian tribes who were actually well administered!)
While we witness shortages of basic school supplies because of budget cut-backs which are often made to the detriment of the students but seldom touch the blotted bureaucratic waste, we saw the loss of disciplinary control by teachers and local school administrators. The Department of Education has done to education what one would expect by letting alcoholics run your liquor store.
Karl Marx referred to free education for all children in government schools. The problem with free education in government controlled public schools is the word government. Government control of schools is like everything else government touches . . . it just isn’t very effective or efficient. Once the Fed got its tentacles around education it diluted the money actually needed for education, and the mandates it created in its goal of equal education included such programs sex education, which has gone beyond the pale in parental interference.
Speaking of mandates which are the unintended consequences of federal government control, is the added costs to the states to run the federal programs and comply with their rules. For instance, just the cost to litigate the dismissal (firing) of a teacher or administrator, has allow ineptness to become a permanent part of the school system. It has neutered local school boards which find it an almost impossible task to fire a teacher even for moral turpitude, because of the lengthy and expensive legal battles that ensue. Additionally the classroom conduct in many schools, particularly in metropolitan inner-city school districts, has been hijacked by teenage thugs, with both students and teachers in fear for their lives.
We have elitist politicians who refuse to allow their own sons and daughters to attend public schools, yet they continue to fight voucher programs and charter school experiments for the rest of us. This would give parents a choice of where to send their children. We know, from two centuries of economic excellence that competition is good to insure high quality products. In places where school choice has been tried test results are far higher than the run- of-the-mill public schools.
Bending to the wishes of the federal government, states have put-up with the idea of “outcome based education”, another pipe-dream in which both Democrats and Republicans tried to again pull the wool over our eyes with sweet sounding words. Yet, the American public continues being taxed at the federal and state level for education with little to show for it according to international test results.
Many families have opted for home schooling and many have had to fight through bureaucratic red tape for the right to teach their own kids. The Home School Legal Defense Association is a nonprofit advocacy organization established to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the education of their children and to protect family freedoms.
In my book Down on Main Street Searching for American Exceptionalism, I stated. “Again, it is ultimately up to the courts when basic human rights are at stake which include conflicts with state or local officials over the home schooling issue. Each year, thousands of families count on the Association for consultation by letter and phone, while hundreds more are represented through negotiations and court proceedings.” Who would have thought, back in the time of the founding of this great country, parents would have to file suit just to educate their own children?
I am not alone in my condemnation of government control over education. Critics of American public education argue that the United States is unable to educate all children effectively, partly because of the highly bureaucratic nature of its governance structure. Attached to most federal government funding are layers of rules burdened by paperwork and regulation; thus, government programs become difficult to implement or change. This institutionalized problem of excessive bureaucracy, shuffles funds and responsibility around to various bodies and shifts the responsibility of academic achievement onto parents, administrators, teachers, and students.
Now along comes another attempt to put a Band-Aid on the educational tumor . . . The new Common Core Education Program. This time around we have an example of the Department of Education and the government’s attempt to further indoctrinate our children in “political correctness” along with “class envy” and the Marxist theory that all wealth is communal. This is the real hidden agenda behind the government’s mask of education.
The curriculum as I have read has many laudable goals HOWEVER, the sample “test questions” I have discussed with concerned parents is frightening in terms of the subtlety. The tests’ wording sets the stage for viewing the world from the jaded eyes of Karl Marx with questions worded so little Johnny and Susie will know . . .
- that those people with money are BAD, those with lesser means are GOOD, and that equality for all is best;
- the needs of the state should supersede the needs of the individual;
- global warming is a fact and those who oppose the theory of man-made global warming are ignorant at best and most likely enemies of society;
- melting Arctic ice caps will soon flood the world, drown the polar bears, and flood Manhattan.
The real way to improve education besides returning education to the states, is to add competition and choice in public schools through charter schools and vouchers. Advocates of school choice believe, among other things, that some of the bureaucratic burden causing inefficiency and ineffectiveness will be lifted when schools are run more like businesses and parents can choose their children’s schools more like consumers. Yet, these ideas of choice and localized control meet resistance from the education establishment, who often argue that maintaining and adding to current practices is the best bet for improving public education…in other words, more of the same. That thought my friends, is insanity!
According to a research study by the Friedman Foundation, “America’s K-12 public education system has experienced tremendous historical growth(261) in employment, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Between fiscal year (FY) 1950 and FY 2009, the number of K-12 public school students in the United States increased by 96 percent while the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) school employees grew 386 percent. Public schools grew staffing at a rate four times faster than the increase in students over that time period. Of those personnel, teachers’ numbers increased 252 percent while administrators and other staff experienced growth of 702 percent, more than seven times the increase in students.”
Additionally noted in the above report, even before the No Child Left Behind attempted to correct educational deficiencies (1992-2001), “public schools’ student population grew 13 percent while public education personnel rose 29 percent—a 23 percent increase for teachers and a 37 percent increase for administrators and other staff.
We spent over $151,000 per student sending the graduating class of 2009 through public schools. That is nearly three times as much as we spent on the graduating class of 1970, adjusting for inflation. Despite that massive real spending increase, overall achievement has stagnated or declined, depending on the subject.
This all leaves me wondering, just who will be smart enough to effectively operate all that sophisticated weaponry we are building for our military.