Sunday, November 14, 2010

Public Education - Cut The Waste

The days of the little red school house that was the US public educational system for years is long over. It is estimated that today, federal, state and local school districts spend in excess of a Trillion dollars each year on elementary and secondary education; that is one thousand billion, even in the new math. In fact, the United States spends more on public education that any other country in the world; yet the results achieved are mediocre at best. So it would be easy to conclude that achieving superior student achievement has little to do with money despite the screams from teacher unions and bleeding hearts.

The reality is that public education has become one huge bureaucracy, more about jobs, than actually teaching kids. There is the federal US Department of Education, that is one big boondoggle, that could be eliminated altogether. Then on the State level, there is usually the State Department of Education, the County Departments of Education and then local school districts, that often break down into mini-districts, in the larger metropolitan school districts. This just means administrator on top of administrator on top of administrator, which takes money away from the classroom and for what purpose. All of these characters are in place presumably to distribute and "manage" taxpayer monies allocated to education. If results are the measurement standard, the word "manage" must be used very loosely since the more money spent over the years, the worse the results.

Of course, teacher unions are part of this equation as the unions argue that more money is always needed to fund education for the "good of the kids". What a bunch of baloney!! The fact is that the teacher unions are in place to extract more money from the taxpayer, without any accountability, for the good of teachers. Let's at least be honest about it. And, there is no conclusive evidence that class size has anything to do with superior results either as argued by the unions. Lower class size just means more dues paying teachers. The reality is that higher spending has resulted in poorer and poorer student achievement and facilities that are falling apart. Cards talk and numbers don't lie. It is disgraceful!

First, let's eliminate various layers of administration and bureaucracy at both the federal and state levels. The US Department of Education should be eliminated altogether in favor of a small group of Administrators back in Health and Human Services, where they were in the first place. We don't need more than 4,000 federal bureaucrats at the federal Department of Education to give out money. Both the federal and state governments can provide block grants to school districts, based on average daily attendance (ADA), jargon for the number of kids that attend school every day.

This means we can also scale back State Departments of Education. The County Departments of Education usually handle what local school districts refuse to do like dealing with kids in reform schools. The question is why? If a reform school exists within a school district, it is just one more school. Local school districts can deal with education within their boundaries so it is likely the County School Districts can be eliminated altogether. This would get more money to the classroom rather than administrator's pockets.

Specific to the classroom, it is time for a free market solution to failing public education. Poor parents, in particular, should be given vouchers to choose whatever schools they want for their children. Many inner city schools are dirty, run down, hell holes. Requiring poor parents to keep their children in those schools because they do not have the funds to send their kids to private schools is just plain criminal and represents the new slavery for the benefit of teachers not kids. We need to eliminate tenure so that poor public school teachers can be FIRED. In addition, it is time for Merit pay, which is opposed by the teacher unions, to reward exceptional teachers for achieving superior student achievement. We also must get rid of pension plans for all public employees that are unsustainable, in favor of 401K plans common in business.

What I saw while working in public education in the inner city in Los Angles for six years was that about a third of teachers were exceptional, a third were mediocre and a third should have been FIRED because they were completely incompetent. We need to reward the exceptional, deal with the mediocre to achieve improvement and FIRE the incompetent. This is just common sense since again the US spends more on public education that any other country in the world; yet achieves mediocre results. Obviously, what is happening now is not working so rather than continue a failed strategy that only gets worse each year, it is time for radical change not just tinkering around the edges.

Of course, the Socialists in the federal and state governments will not make any of these changes because they are owned lock, stock and barrel by the teacher unions. In fact, the largest number of delegates at a typical Socialist Presidential Convention are teacher union members. This is another reason we must elect Conservatives in 2012 and 2o14 that support free market capitalism, limited government, lower taxes and less regulation, a balanced budget, term limits, real education, energy and health care reform, a strong national defense, including securing our border and fighting Terrorism, the right to bear arms, the sanctity of life and family values that are the foundation of our nation.

Most important, we must elect Conservatives that will adhere to the Constitution, as written by our Founding Fathers, not as contrived by the left wing media, Socialists during the last 97 years, former Presidents, Congresses, or the Courts. This is the winning platform supported by the majority of the American people and the only way to restore economic growth and jobs in America.

Our failing public schools are just one more reason we must take back our country in 2012 and 2014. We must move from left wing indoctrination in our public schools, which is what is occurring now, back to real learning in order to compete in a global economy. We must go from feel good education, where teachers are concerned about a student's self image, to do good education where kids actually graduate with knowledge in their heads not just the ability to use Google. We must take back our country in 2012 and 2014. We proved in 2010 that we can do it. Now we have to finish the job to preserve our freedom, our nation and way of life for the sake of our children and grandchildren.

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