Turn off the tap to schools

Thomas Jefferson coined the phrase “The government closest to the people serves the people best.”

The United States spends $10,821 per student, which ranks it fourth among developed nations. We throw more money at our schools than just about any other country, and what do we get in return? Not long ago, we had a superb public school system ranked first or second internationally. Sadly, that is no longer the case. In math, we’re now 38th in the world. Reading isn’t much better at 24th place. And it’s getting worse.

What changed? The creation of the Federal Department of Education and all its mandates, edicts and dictates. Ask any teacher or administrator why education has taken a dive in this country and they will immediately throw the departments of education under the bus.

The administrators claim they have little power to change the direction of the curriculum.

They claim the curriculum is designed to prepare youth for the high-tech world we live in. Yes, the world has become high tech, so much so that the jobs of today require individual training. What the students need to succeed today is the basics that render them trainable. Reading comprehension, the ability to speak and write the English language correctly (yes, I went to school when they still taught us how to form an adverb but I do not claim to be an expert grammarian. After all, I am a product of the public education system). Students also need math, logic and problem-solving skills. If the administrators tell you they no longer have time to teach these basics because of the mandates thrown at them, do they really understand what their job is all about?

Coincidentally, the other influential force that became powerful about the same time as the departments of education is the teachers’ unions. I admit, this may be more correlation than causation with regards to declining academic performance but the teachers’ unions certainly cannot deny their support both financially and at the ballot box for those big government politicians who created the education system we are living with today.

When was the last time you heard a teachers’ union, during contract negotiations, say we don’t want more money or better benefits, what we want is more control over our curriculum to better educate our students. When? Never! Perhaps if the teachers want our support via additional taxes they should decertify the union and come to the voters saying they no longer support the collective power of the union. Tell us they are willing to stand on their individual merits. Promise to channel their efforts into educating our children not political activism.

Many students can’t write, they can’t read, they can’t problem solve, they don’t have basic life-long learning skills and they think they are superstars and that the world owes them a bed of roses. They have no concept of the historical importance of freedom and the free market in creating the world we live in. These are the products of the education system created by the departments of education and the teachers’ unions.

This takes me back to my original point, politics is local. You cannot get more local than the school board. So if departments of education edicts is truly restricting our schools from educating our children properly, then it is time to ignore the edicts.

It is time the administrators start doing their jobs which is creating a productive education environment. Tell the department of education to shove their mandated rules and curriculum where the sun doesn’t shine. Tell the teachers that perhaps there would be a better chance of financial support if they jettisoned the union and stopped supporting big government leftist politicians and policies. Make teaching the basics (reading, writing, math, and civics) the overriding objective of a K12 education.

Money talks. The best way to get the message across to these educators is to turn off the tap. Throwing more money at the problem has not worked for the past 40 years. Remember the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Area resident Jack Loesch is a longtime teacher at the University of Akron whose columns appear periodically in the Salem

News. Read hiswebsite at www.TorchnFork.info.Hemay be reached at:TorchNFork@frontier.com