Outpatient Orphanages: Schools keep kids, jobs in house

Yeah… I know I use hyperbole like some people use too much ketchup on mac-n-cheese. (What… you don’t? Try it sometime.) So it should be nothing new, when I point to stories like this: Delaware Community Schools will run its own latchkey program to minimize job cuts | The Star Press and say, “See? See? We are on our way towards finding a great new purpose for America’s anemic district schools. Some day, they are going to eventually start keeping kids overnight, then for the week. And then when it’s determined that ‘certain’ kids’ family life just doesn’t meet government standards, compassion will rule the day.

And in the name of compassion, we will think nothing of taking those “at risk” children off the hands of those bad parents!

Okay… you’re right. This isn’t going to happen in the near-near future. But what other future for our public district schools can you think of? They are terrible at actually educating kids, and they are constantly complaining that parents aren’t getting their kids “ready to learn” before they get to school….

Don’t you think there’s just going to come a time when (in order to save jobs, because we should always have government schools!) they’ll suddenly find out they are better suited for “taking care of children” than many parents?

If your only criticism is that it makes you uncomfortable when I call Government Run Public Schools “Welfare Schools” or “Outpatient Orphanages” then I think you’re just in denial. Think for a moment and take a stab at what YOU think the future holds for public district schools.

Get back to me.

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Admit it Liberals, You Hate (School) Choice

I think it’s really sad that some people only want to fund public education for some kids in only certain public schools, but not other public schools or any other workable educational options.

Why the discrimination people?

My Facebook friend, Nate Spencer says it’s about “money and power. Those other schools don’t tend to be NEA shops. Kids first indeed.”

I keep thinking that “money and power” are becoming old saws of late, Nate. Do you suppose there are other reasons? The “power” part I get… but I think it’s about the overall power that is derived from keeping a monopoly alive so that it feeds the millions of people that feed off of it. Only this monopoly doesn’t make a few greedy capitalist industrialists powerful, but rather several unions, contractors, suppliers, bureaucracies, workers, etc. etc. etc.

The Government Education Complex (read more about it on this blog: The Government Education Complex Defined) is the monopoly that uses taxpayer dollars (money taken by force) to keep itself alive via a political construct called districts. School districts are like mini fiefdoms, that require funding, not directly from the community they serve, but from the state and the federal governments, so that they can perpetuate themselves.

Over a century ago it was decided that taking our money by force through taxation in order to pay for the schooling of other people’s children is a good thing. It has been ingrained in our psyche that only public schooling is something worthwhile, and worthy of paying for with our tax dollars. But unfortunately for the Education Complex, along came a few different models of learning that happen to work better than the old factory school (districts) model and parents are now making choices, rather than abdicating their choice to the one and only government school closest to them. (Or in some cases, a non-local school that the government buses their children to because they determined some diversity quotas must be met.)

NOW… it’s suddenly not the right thing to pay for educating ALL children. NOW we should only pay for the kids who attend DISTRICT public schools. Not just ANY public school. Charters, and other options, you see, threaten the monopoly (and let’s face it.. the unions too; but that’s becoming an old saw as well.)

I guess all I want at this point in the debate is a little intellectual and moral honesty. If you are a Liberal and you believe Public Charter schools are all bad and shouldn’t exist because they are “pulling, stripping, stealing” money away from the district public schools, then pretty-please agree to the following… at least in principle:

1) Public School funding is really about funding “certain” children and not all children. IF you want to choose to go to a public school — ANY SCHOOL — that isn’t unionized or operates in a manner other than in a politically controlled district using master contracts that citizens can’t approve personally, you should have to pay for it yourself, just like all the other “rich” people who pay for private schooling. Your tax dollars can’t go to private schools or non-district schools. It hurts our old district schooling system too much and it hurts the children left in the poorly performing schools when you take your money and children out of the system. These systems must be fixed, no matter what the cost; even if it cheats some children out of a decent education.

2) Yes, yes, yes… I agree that charter schools are really public schools. I’ve been using the “charter schools aren’t public schools” and “charters get to pick and choose their students” lie because it furthers my agenda, which again, is the following: MY district school deserves taxpayer money before OTHER public schools and other educational choices receive money. The end justifies the means.

3) I realize that poor and “at-risk” children also might have parents who want to take advantage of charters or even vouchers. I feel for them. I really do. I’m a Liberal after all. We really really feel for these kids. That said, I have to admit that even though these options might in fact help these poor and disadvantaged students, it might actually hurt MY school district, therefore I can not support even poor and disadvantaged children receiving taxpayer support for THEIR choice to leave their assigned school district. It puts too many other kids at risk. And besides, how can we be sure the parents of poor and at-risk kids know what they’re doing? They can’t possibly know what’s best for their child’s education. They aren’t the professionals.

4) I’m still for choice!! I just have to look out for MY CHOICES first. You know what I mean? Therefore, I will work hard with my political friends and lobbyists in the statehouse, paid for with donations from my union dues, do make sure that all workable educational choice and reform ideas are aborted before they become viable law. I will, though, in the spirit of intellectual honesty, stop blaming Bush and NCLB for all of the problems we have today with our public school districts, especially with the prospect that Obama’s Race to the Top plan will be NCLB on crack!!

SEE!! That wasn’t so hard, was it? You really can be a pro choice Liberal and at the same time, deny ‘certain’ children their right to a good education of their parents’ choice. And people will probably still like you.

Admit these things, my liberal friends, public school district apologists and opponents in playful and philosophical discourse and I bet we can start to have more honest conversations about the future of education reform.

Quoting Thomas Jefferson: Public School Snob?

“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” *

What a snob. What an elitist! What a Republican… wait. Oops. He was a Democrat, wasn’t he? I was looking through some quotes from President Jefferson, because I had been hearing way too much about how Jefferson was the master planner of the modern public school system, and how he wanted every child to be educated at the expense of the state. If Jefferson is your hero in this regard, please read on.

But if you want to remain ignorant to the fact that Thomas Jefferson was an education snob that really couldn’t imagine the idea that all children should complete their education and go on to college… maybe you should move on.

Let’s take a look at what I found! We’ll warm up with several quotes that make Sara Palin seem like a moderate:

Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson: Education Snob

“It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.”

“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”

Holy cow! Jefferson was a Tea Party hate monger!

“My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.”

“The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government. The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

“To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”

Now this is where we get into the subject of Government Run, Taxpayer Funded Schooling. Taxpayers are subsidizing the propagation of ideas they find abhorrent. They have been doing so for generations. And now it’s time to think about going back to the type of public schools Jefferson really wanted.

At BigEye.com, in a post called, Thomas Jefferson’s plan for “Public” Schooling, Albert Jay Nock was quoted extensively. Nock gives us a different–and probably more accurate–perspective of how Jefferson thought public education should work: [emphasis added]

For some reason that I have never been able to discover, Mr. Jefferson seems to be regarded as a great democrat; on public occasions he is regularly invoked as such by gentlemen who have some sort of political axe to grind, so possibly that view of him arose in this way. The fact is that he was not even a doctrinaire republican, as his relation to the French Revolution clearly shows. When Mr. Jefferson was revising the Virginia Statutes in 1797, he drew up a comprehensive plan for public education.

Each ward should have a primary school for the three R’s, open to all. Each year the best pupil in each school should be sent to the grade-school, of which there were to be twenty, conveniently situated in various parts of the state. They should be kept there one year or two years, according to results shown, and then all dismissed but one, who should be continued six years. “By this means,” said the good old man, “twenty of the best geniuses will be raked from the rubbish annually” — a most unfortunate expression for a democrat to use! At the end of six years, the best ten out of the twenty were to be sent to college, and the rest turned adrift.

(Read Nock’s entire essay at the Ludwig von Mises Instutute)

Well! I am certainly all for Jefferson’s plan for educating the youth of America! I’ll fill you in on all the particulars next time you get all excited about how Jefferson wanted our schools to be just like they are now.

 

* Special thanks to the first person to comment on this article for the clarification of the first quote attributed to Jefferson. The actual quote, found here, says pretty much the same thing, only with a lot more words. But since the quote I found above is getting enough traction to warrant an “official” site to make the corrections… I thought I’d let it stand.

Choose Your Prison: Elementary School Drug Testing?

This just in, from our friends over at the Nanny State Liberation Front blog: Elementary School Ponders Drug Testing Youngsters.

From the linked article:

The Board of Education will vote Wednesday on a plan to randomly test sixth, seventh and eighth graders to see if they are under the influence of drugs. School administrators said they were confident the proposal would pass.

Elementary School Principal Sandra Szabocsik said school officials want to use the testing “as a deterrent.”

“We’re hoping that the students if they’re at say a party or someone’s house or just hanging out somewhere, that they’ll say ‘I don’t want to get involved in drinking or using any drug because tomorrow could be a drug testing day,’” she told CBS 2′s Christine Sloan.

I really don’t have anything prolific to add. It’s just another stupid thing that State Schools are doing to control people, rather than educate them. If you had a choice to send your child to these prisons they call Government Schools, would you? And if you do go to a school like this, and think drug testing your little babies is a good thing, then maybe you deserve the government supplied education your children get.

You’ll be blessed later on in life, when their training in moral relativism kicks in somewhere around your retirement.

The Government Education Complex Defined

“The “Government Education Complex” is the interlocking set of interests that control the vast majority of American education dollars, education policy, and the steady increase in unnecessary education job creation.”

There it is… in a nutshell. From this, flows most of my theories about how Government Schooling is damaging generations of children.

The following is a more concise definition of how I (and others of my ilk) define and frame our arguments against Public Schools, Government Schools, and State Schools. Actually, for years we’ve been discussing on my AltEdDiscourse List, the problems with Government Schools using this term as a basis for defining all of the systemic problems with Government Run, Taxpayer Funded (GRTF) Schooling. Bruno Behrend has been a huge contributor to our discussions on AltEdDiscourse in the past, and he continues with the Heartland Institute today.

And so, with special thanks to my good friend, Bruno, I would like to present his concise definition of the GEC and why our Government Schools will never be fully reformed until we fundamentally change how we pay for and deliver “education.”

If you want to discuss with me, the state of public education, please read this first. It’ll be good for you to know where I’m comin’ from.

The Government Education Complex

by Bruno Behrend

The “Government Education Complex” is the interlocking set of interests that control the vast majority of American education dollars, education policy, and the steady increase in unnecessary education job creation. The explosion of spending, debt, and taxation we’ve witnessed in the last 25 years was used to fund the growth of this Complex.

The complex is made up not only of associations of administrators and teachers unions, but an interconnected network of bond dealers, builders, architects, law firms, textbook companies, and other service providers who profit off of the overproduction of service contracts, debt, public employment, and bureaucracy. This interlocking network has played a role in funding the campaigns of thousands of elected officials at all levels and in both parties.

Like the Military Industrial Complex that Eisenhower warned of, the “Government Education Complex” is politically powerful and completely self-interested in perpetuating itself. Unlike the Military Industrial Complex, which has provided America with the most effective fighting force on the planet, the Government Education Complex has failed to provide our society with the educated populace we are paying for.

Rather, it merely uses our children as a stick to beat more money out of us while providing, at best, a mediocre education for the lucky. The unlucky get to go to America’s urban drop-out factories.

The vast sum of political money raised by the “Government Education Complex” is used to write legislation at the state level to grow the complex while protecting it from any competition. State school codes are written by and for the complex and its members and passed by the political class whose campaigns they fund.

The “Government Education Complex” succeeds because of one key factor in its structure – the school district. The “district” is an artifice that provides voters and citizens with the false perception of “local control.” In fact, your local school district is merely a “franchise” of the centralized complex – like McDonalds, only more expensive. That is why America has literally thousands of school districts, almost all of which are creatures of the individual states’ school codes. While there is some variation state to state and district to district, most of that variation is due to differing socio-economic or regional factors, not district autonomy.

This raises the question of whether the “Government Education Complex” is corrupt. The short answer is, “Yes.” At any given moment, you can find hundreds of local news stories about wasted money, insider contracts, or the difficulty citizens encounter when looking into school district finances. The entire process, from the complex property tax collection system to the overly complex fund accounting dictated in many states, is designed to obfuscate spending.

The long answer is more complex, simply because a great deal of what most regular citizens call “corruption” has been legalized by most state school codes. The Government Education Complex is designed to grow itself while spending money by the billions. It is operating exactly as intended. The actual education of America’s children is not its agenda. Spending money is its agenda.

In conclusion, the Government Education Complex cannot be reformed. It must be dismantled. If you are serious about educating America’s children, you must disabuse yourself of the notion that any combination of tepid reforms – a transparency law here, a teacher merit pay tweak there, or teacher measurement improvement law anywhere – can “fix” our education system.

Dismantlement means that we need to move toward the money following the child to a much more vast array of education content providers. We need to create a “Parent/Child Education Network.” This means that there will be a place for every imaginable learning system, from the traditional school to international digital learning content beamed to tablets and smart phones. This Parent/Child Education Network must replace the Government Education Complex.

That should be your goal, and every incremental step in education reform must be measured by whether it leads there. Anything that leaves the Government-Education Complex in place will fail to improve America’s education outcomes.

Bruno Behrend works for the Heartland Institute. Here’s a similar post in his words at SomewhatReasonable.com.
Bruno Behrend
Director of the Center for School Reform
The Heartland Institute
19 South LaSalle Street #903
Chicago, IL 60603
phone 312/377-4000
fax 312/377-5000
bbehrend@heartland.org
http://www.heartland.org