"America is like a healthy body and its resistance is threefold: its patriotism, its morality, and its spiritual life. If we can undermine these three areas, America will collapse from within."
--Joseph Stalin

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Yes, Another “Why Johnny Can’t Read” Commentary

Will Malven

There is virtually a perennial inquiry by American parents as to “Why Johnny Can’t Read.” This encapsulates a growing awareness and concern over the plight of our educational system. The puzzlement is only increased when one stops to consider that America spends more money per student than any other industrialized nation, by a factor of 2 or 3.

The following chart shows, in constant 2008 dollars, the extent of our education problem:

Since 1970, total expenditures per student have almost tripled, with no discernable results other than the enrichment of teachers’ unions and the campaign war chests of the Democrat politicians who pander to them.

Education was part of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (elevated to a cabinet level position in 1953) until then President Jimmy Carter elevated education to a cabinet level position in 1979 (Democrats just love government—they can’t seem to get enough of it).

In their mission statement the Department of Education lays out it’s prescribed purpose, as established by law:
• Strengthen the Federal commitment to assuring access to equal educational opportunity for every individual;
• Supplement and complement the efforts of states, the local school systems and other instrumentalities of the states, the private sector, public and private nonprofit educational research institutions, community-based organizations, parents, and students to improve the quality of education;
• Encourage the increased involvement of the public, parents, and students in Federal education programs;
• Promote improvements in the quality and usefulness of education through Federally supported research, evaluation, and sharing of information;
• Improve the coordination of Federal education programs;
• Improve the management of Federal education activities; and
• Increase the accountability of Federal education programs to the President, the Congress, and the public.
[ http://www2.ed.gov/about/overview/mission/mission.html?src=ln ]

In other words, the Education Department has failed miserably to serve the purpose for which it was originally created. Since the establishment of the department, the quality of our children’s education has steadily declined. America, once the leader of the free world in producing scientists and engineers and a leader in innovation, must now rely more and more upon foreign born scientists and engineers to feed the demand for innovation.

Our students rank 25th in mathematics, 17th in science, and 14th in reading skills—I do believe we rank first in putting condoms on cucumbers, so all is not lost.

America ranks second among all nations in the amount of spending per student, yet we are nearly at the bottom of all industrialized nations in overall education.

This doesn’t speak very highly of the success of the Department of Education, in fact it speaks to the need to eliminate the whole damn mess and return that responsibility to the states and local governments, where it belongs.

There are a number of main contributors to our failing education system, but first among those has to be the encroachment of unions into the teaching profession.

Teaching used to be a calling. Those who entered the field did so out of a sense of obligation to their community and sought the emotional rewards which follow naturally from performing an important service to one’s community and from watching as children progress from the jabbering wild creatures as which they begin into intelligent considered students with a look towards the future and their own careers.

Since the establishment of the Department of Education and the rapid increase in teachers' union membership, education is a “calling” no more and is now looked at as a professional career and a source of financial reward and advancement.

Newly minted teachers spend more time in “education classes” than they do in studying the actual subjects they will be responsible for teaching. This is eerily reminiscent of the Harvard Business School’s model of “management as a portable skill.” What becomes important is form, rather than function. Knowledge of how to teach is valued more than knowledge of what you are teaching.

However, I also don't wish to imply that the failure of our education system is solely the fault of teachers or schools. It is a societal problem.

When parents don't care, when students who seek to do well are vilified by their peers, and scholastic achievement is less important that what you wear and less important than athletic prowess, it is difficult to foresee any improvement in the quality of our education system.

Without the necessary values being instilled in our youth, this decline in performance is inevitable. Without parents who care, who are willing to become involved in their children’s’ lives and who are willing to spend the time ensuring that their children learn and attend classes, our schools are destined to fail.
That does not, however, completely exonerate teachers unions and teachers. The field has also been polluted with the worst of leftist ideals with their ingrained hatred of everything for which America has stood over the past 230 years.

Political correctness, secular humanism, relativistic morals, and outcome based education have replaced common sense, Judeo-Christian morals and belief systems, and “reading and ‘riting and ‘rithmetic.”
All of that simply goes hand-in-hand with the changing role of our schools from education to indoctrination. Our public school system is churning out little brainwashed robots who lack the critical thinking skill, cultural associations, and knowledge of our common history. Fundamental skills such as spelling, basic four function math, and reading comprehension are no longer taught. Our students use calculators almost before they learn to add and subtract and they write their term papers on computers with spell check and grammar check.

Many reading this will denigrate my belief that learning by rote is still the best technique and judging by results over the past 4 decades, I am right. Traditional education techniques were proven over time and the “innovations” in teaching techniques that have come from those degreed in the field of “education” have yet to have proven themselves.

It is time to reevaluate our investment in a great federal bureaucracy. The Department of Education employs 5000 people with a budget of $70 Billion. None of those people teach classes, they are bureaucrats—that is to say consumers of our tax-payer dollars. They produce nothing but paperwork, regulations that have, as far as I can tell, an adverse effect on our education system and useless failed theories on how education can be improved.

A large part of this failing lies in the simple and undeniable truth that education was never intended to be a function of the FEDERAL government. Historically, educating our youth has been function of our state and local governments. The further away from the students and parents authority over education gets, the more alienated it will become from the target population and the less responsive to their needs it will become.

Today’s Department of Education has deteriorated into nothing more than a money pump from the tax-payer into the coffers of the teachers unions and from them into the war chests of Democrat Politician who pander to them.

Why don’t we eliminate the entire Department, send the money back to the tax-payers, or at least back to local governments and get one more layer of our overarching federal government off of our collective backs?

Long Live Our American Republic!!!

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