Forum: How Would You Change Public Education in the U.S.?

The Watcher’s Council

Every week on Monday morning, the Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum with short takes on a major issue of the day, the culture or daily living. This week’s question: How Would You Change Public Education in the U.S.?

The Independent Sentinel: I don’t like the idea of paying for two public school systems running alongside one another, but public education needs competition. The union leaders block change and progress if they think it in any way inhibits their goals, which do not include the children except as an after-thought.

I do think private education, such as privately-funded Charter Schools, can work. I don’t mind vouchers in poor areas where the schools are failing.

Common Core could have been the answer. Instead it’s an abomination. The testing now tied into it will nationalize education. The leftists – and I do mean hard-left – have already taken advantage and plugged their propaganda into the Core-Aligned curricula. There are too many tests and, while I agree that more objective measures of teacher performance are needed, these standardized tests aren’t it.

GrEaT sAtAn”S gIrLfRiEnD: In no partic order – totally reshape the Dept of Edu to nigh inexistence, reshape teacher unions, implement text book reform for grade school with an asset kicking update to the famous 1879 version of the McGuffey Readers. The American History courses would be heavily influenced by the incredible “How America Got It Right”.

College Edu would get a serious kick at the campus bookstore – no more $3.00 pencils etc. or Professors changing the foreward in $200 books they wrote and require every semester. A general jihad on campus bookstores and college tuition.

And this would prob never work – yet tenured teachers would have to swear an oath of allegiance in public to Great Satan and her constitution a lot like the military.

The Colossus of Rhodey: I am a big proponent of a system I saw on one of John Stossel’s specials some years back. It described how in some countries, like Belgium, public monies for education (per pupil) follow the student wherever he/she may decide to go — public or private school. If the latter costs more than what is provided, then the family must provide the extra. This system serves to make all schools compete for students. If schools cannot attract students, they will eventually shut down.

One of the problems with implementing such a system here in the US is that “advocates” will complain that some parents (usually poor and/or minority) “won’t know” where to best to send their child(ren) for a variety of reasons (most usually lame). Since these parents “can’t” decide, such a system would be “unfair.” (If you doubt me on this, just read some of the liberal bloggers and commenters on this issue here in my home state of Delaware, which has a statewide school choice and charter system in place.) Nevertheless, such a system would enable children (and parents) to choose schools which seek, among many other things, to logically evade the insane Orwellian doublespeak that our federal Dept. of Education’s Civil Rights Division is implementing across the land. If you ask parents and teachers what their number one concern is about their schools, discipline is usually at the top, and always in the top three. This latest insanity from the feds will only exacerbate these concerns, making the clamor for more options and choice all the louder.

The Glittering Eye: Tough question. I look forward to the responses from the several educators who are members of the Council.

Before considering what should be done, I think we need to consider the challenges. There are many but I want to look at just two.

First, the percentage of on-time graduations from high school in our large cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago seems to have plateaued at around 50%. That’s not a new phenomenon. It’s been the case since the 1950s.

Second, Gammon’s Law or as it’s also called “the Law of Bureaucratic Displacement.” Here’s how Max Gammon, the British physician who first identified the phenomenon described it:

In his words, in “a bureaucratic system … increase in expenditure will be matched by fall in production ….” Such systems will act rather like ‘black holes’ in the economic universe, simultaneously sucking in resources, and shrinking in terms of ‘emitted’ production.

In other words, additional spending will not solve the problems with our system of public education because any resource thrown at it will simply be absorbed. That’s the problem with our healthcare system as well.

Let’s return to the first problem. I think it’s obvious that a significant number of young people see no value in their educations. Considering the slow growth in new jobs available for young people, they’re probably correct in that assessment. That’s a problem that can’t be solved just by reforming the educational system but solving would probably be helpful in addressing the public educational system’s other problems.

The second problem can only be solved by structural change. Structural changes necessary include eliminating Ed schools or, at the very least, changing the relationship between Ed schools and the public school system, elimination of tenure, drastic reduction in school bureaucracies, ending the unionization of public school teachers, and, if Illinois is any gauge, limiting the total compensation of school administrators to a level that is affordable by the communities they are presumed to serve.

Said another way, the problems of the public education system are not solvable.

Well, there you have it.

Make sure to tune in every Monday for the Watcher’s Forum. And remember, every Wednesday, the Council has its weekly contest with the members nominating two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council. The votes are cast by the Council and the results are posted on Friday morning.

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2 thoughts on “Forum: How Would You Change Public Education in the U.S.?

  1. 1. Get the Federal Government out of k-12 education completely. Schools should be run locally and governed by the parents of the enrolled children.

    2. No teacher should be allowed to unionize and should be hired and fired on merit alone.

    3. Retired grandparents should be encouraged to be involved in all aspects of teaching and assisting in schooling.

  2. Simple, get Washington, D.C. out of the local classroom completely and never ever let them back in. After that everything should be fine.

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