Sunday, December 19, 2010

Reforming Public Education

Public Education in the United States is badly in need of reform. Our nation spends more on public schools than any other country in the world, yet academic achievement is among the worst in the industrialized world. It may very well be that the current generation will not be as well educated as their parents, or even their grandparents before them. Yes, kids today know how to use computers and play video games; but can they spell, or communicate in writing? In many instances, the answer is NO. This is particularly true in inner cities where many graduate with reading levels far below grade level, or worse don't graduate at all. Drop out rates in the inner cities of our country are particularly high. Clearly, public education is failing our nation. It is time to act!

There is a direct correlation between the growth of teacher unions and failing public schools. Teacher unions make every demand for more money using kids as their excuse, when in fact teacher unions are in business to achieve higher compensation and benefits for their members and less work. Often teacher unions argue for lower class size even though there is no evidence that lower class size results in better student achievement. That argument is really about hiring more dues paying teachers to belong to the union and lowering work loads. Clearly, collective bargaining has been a disaster for public education and as a result it should be ended. While teachers have gotten higher salaries and exorbitant pensions over the years through collective bargaining, it is has been at the expense of the students and schools themselves, which are often filthy and in disrepair, especially in the inner city.

Teacher unions and tenure have made it nearly impossible to FIRE an incompetent teacher and or to reward really good teachers with Merit Pay. Teacher tenure should be eliminated as a critical reform to allow poor teachers to be FIRED no matter how long they have been in the system. And, administrators as management should be able to provide Merit Pay to outstanding teachers. The notion that all teachers, in various categories, are paid the same regardless of results, or hard work, is absurd.

Inner city parents and or the poor, held captive in failing public schools, should be given vouchers to allow them to send their children to private schools. Obviously, the rich like Socialist President Obama and most members of Congress can and do send their kids to private schools in Washington DC, while at the same time one of the first things Obama did after his inauguration was to end the school voucher program in Washington DC as a payoff to his teacher union supporters. This was nothing short of criminal. Unless public schools face competition, particularly in the inner city, there will be no improvement in student results.

Teachers spend a considerable amount of time dealing with 5% of students that are discipline problems. Those kids must be removed from regular classrooms and placed in alternative schools designed for them. Generally, kids that are serial discipline problems either have psychological issues and or face dysfunction at home. Either way, these kids need the services of a social worker as much as a teacher. Most important, allowing them to remain in regular classrooms is a major disservice to the other kids there to learn. Without discipline in the classroom, learning is impossible so this problem must be dealt with even if it is politically incorrect.

Not all children can or should go to college. Testing should take place in the 9th grade to identify college ready kids and those that should attend vocational high schools and or community colleges. This system is very common in other countries and should be adopted in the United States. Again, this in not politically correct; but reflects reality. There is nothing wrong with learning a trade. And, we still have our community college system, in the event a kid is a late bloomer. So what is the worst that will happen, the kid learns a trade and then goes to college later on to earn an academic degree, if and when ready to do so. This is probably the kid who ends up owning the plumbing company instead of just being a plumber, as though that would be so terrible given what plumbers earn.

Today, kids are often passed along based on age rather than competency. As such, it is possible to graduate from high school even though a kid does not have basic competencies in reading, writing and arithmetic. Even schools districts and states that insist on competency testing to achieve a high school diploma have so dumbed down the tests as to make them meaningless. This has got to stop. If a kid cannot read at grade level, that kid should earn a certificate of completion for spending 12 years in school rather than a high school diploma, which should mean competency at grade level.

Public education is failing in America. The reforms listed are badly needed now; but the Socialists supported by teacher unions and bleeding hearts will yell racism if these policies are put in place. That is ridiculous. We have kids graduating from high school that read at fifth grade level. I know, I taught them in the inner city years ago. The United States spends more on public education that any other nation, yet we have allowed teacher unions and Socialist politicians to destroy our public schools by insisting on political correctness and a lack of standards of achievement.

The failure of public education in America is one more reason we must sweep these Socialists out of office in 2012 and 2014 by electing Conservatives that support free market capitalism, limited government, lower taxes and less regulation, real EDUCATION, energy and health care reform, the right to bear arms, the sanctity of life and family values that are the foundation of our nation. This is the platform supported by the majority of the American people and the only way to restore economic growth and jobs in our country.

Most important, we must elect Conservatives who will adhere to our Constitution, as written by our Founding Fathers, not as contrived by the left wing media, Socialists in the last 97 years, former Presidents, Congresses, or the Courts. We must take back our country and our public schools in 2012 and 2014. We can do it. We must do it to preserve our freedom, our nation and way of life for the sake of our children and grandchildren.

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