For those of you that missed it, here is my recent column in the Platte County Landmark. Ivan Foley was nice enough to give me Chris Stigall’s space while he transitions to his new gig out east. I decided to focus on education. It’s one area the Tea Party and conservatives are not placing enough focus. And frankly, it’s an area where many Republicans are often wrong. Blindly screaming about more school choice is not the answer.
I am a public school teacher.
I consider myself a conservative.
Many conservatives banter around and often say something to the effect of: if we only had more choice in education, then all of our problems would be solved. It’s an oversimplified solution, to a much more complex problem. While school choice can and will help, it won’t be the only solution to solve our educational woes.
Liberals and progressives often scream about how more money will fix public education. Give me a second…I have to quit laughing. Giving more money to these folks is like buying a case of liquor for a drunk, nothing gets solved, but the drunk sure is happy!
I stand firm in this following statement, the greatest assault to our public schools over the last century has come from the academic left and their belief that schools are a place to socially engineer a new society. Don’t believe me? Do your own research. A great place to start is Diane Ravitch. She was Assistant Secretary of Education under Bush 41 and is one of the best historians of education in the country. Her 534 page book, Left Back: A Century of Failed School Reforms is a must read for any American remotely interested in this topic.
Progressives and unions go together like bread and butter. Teacher unions like the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) have reaped havoc upon this profession. The NEA has been infested with progressives since the early 20th century. You do know that the NEA currently recommends for reading two of Saul Alinsky’s books; Rules for Radicals and Reveille for Radicals? Yeah, that guy, the radical 1960s organizer. Don’t believe me? Look it up, it’s on the NEA website.
Unions survive upon fear. Usually, a new teacher is given some speech from union representatives on one of the first days they report for duty. They sell their union membership as a great low cost option for insurance. If little Billie falls off the desk he was standing on and gets hurt, you could be liable, and could get sued. –Gasp- Not kidding, I have heard that exact speech.
The young teachers, straight out of college, often sign up for this reason alone. After all, who wants to get sued? Many rarely even get involved with the union. As a byproduct they just become donors, resigned in the fact that they are insured if something goes wrong in the classroom.
Unions get between teachers and administration, and they encourage teachers to be less politically informed. After all, they take care of this for you! Teachers should leave these unions and take care of their own advocacy. I am a member of the American Association of Educators, a non-union teacher advocacy group that takes no political positions, best of all I get the same insurance the union members do. For political advocacy, I do it myself. I personally know and communicate with three state representatives in Clay County on a regular basis.
One of our biggest, growing problems in education is the lack of involvement of parents in their child’s education. I could tell you stories of poor parenting that would blow your mind, and so could every teacher in America. I am continuously surprised with how little communication I receive from parents in an age where it’s easy to communicate. This is becoming more the norm all the time. Our school systems have become pseudo-parents for a fair amount of the population. I can do my best as a teacher, but I can’t help your child to the fullest extent if they go home to an environment every night that does not promote the love of learning, or values that promote personal growth.
The other area that many are not involved in is our school boards. I love when I run into a person who throws a fit about public education, but has never attended a school board meeting, or doesn’t have a clue who their school board member is. We had a state representative candidate here in Clay County this year that was endorsed by the NEA, but didn’t even vote in his last school board election. See a problem here?
Finally, quit making broad generalizations about education if you don’t have a clue what you are talking about. It’s a profession, just like many others. Before you make a comment about how poor public education is, ask yourself, do you have the research, education and facts to even support your statement?