School Time Again
August 30, 2010
By Humphrey Stevenson
School day, school day, dear old Golden Rule day. Thatís right friends, itís that time again, time for the youngsters to trudge off to their government mandated, taxpayer funded indoctrination centers. There they will be instructed in all manner liberal ideology, from multiculturalism, to Marxist economic policies, to global warming all in an effort to turn wild eyed, curious kids into obedient, unquestioning socialists.
This was not always the case. From about 1600 through the time of the American Revolution, the schools were founded and controlled by the local church. They existed for the education of the children of members of the congregation. Since the schools were run by the local church, there were very few questions if the curriculum would run contrary to religious doctrine. The parents knew that the teachings of the church would be followed.
Even up until about the 1960ís schools were largely locally controlled. Today, with in the age of ďconsolidatedĒ school districts, control is ceded to a school board who in general takes their cue from the Department of Education.
I was educated in public schools (albeit when dinosaurs still roamed the earth). We had a prayer and recited the Pledge of Allegiance each and every morning. I donít remember any complaints about the separation of church and state. There was also corporal punishment. Now, you can disagree and say no child should ever be spanked, but no one was harmed and the faculty and administration had control of those schools.
Vouchers are a start. School vouchers would be issued by the government to parents and they could apply toward the cost of private education. In essence, the parents would be using their tax dollars to help pay for private education. As it is now, a parent who wishes to send their child to a private school must fund both the public and private systems. This would give parents real choice. They could still send their child to a public school if they wish, but private education would not be out of the question as it is now for many parents.
So why would the teachersí unions oppose such a common sense idea? Teachersí unions exist to protect bad teachers. Sorry to be so blunt but itís true and the unions know that vouchers would be a first step toward a solution; the complete privatization of education.
Under a private system, schools must compete for students, just as businesses must compete for customers. To attract students they must attract the parents. Parents would scrutinize their choice of schools very carefully because it is their hard earned money they are spending. The better schools with the better teachers would be able to compete more effectively in the market. Schools with lesser teachers would not. This would eventually attract better teachers and drive out bad teachers.
Secondly, it would tend to drive down the cost of private education. According to the Cato Institute, the average cost of private school is $ 3,116. That is less than half the cost of a pupil in public school. As schools competed for clients (parents of students), they would run more efficiently. Teachersí pay would tend to be based on merit and there would be less of the bloated bureaucracies of the public system that chew up most of the resources and do nothing to educate the students.
Also, since the parents are paying the tuition they are far more likely to be intimately involved in the education of their child. As a former teacher myself, I can tell you that one of the biggest problems with public education is lack of parental involvement. As an example, out of about 125 students I taught each semester, I would average seeing the parents of about 10 of my students. Not surprisingly, these were usually the parents of my best performing students.
Control of the schools must be given back to the local community and especially the parents. Why should some Federal agency or court decide if the Bible can be read or if students can pray? This is for the parents to decide. I think privatizing them may be the best way, but even if schools remain public, the parents in the local community must demand control of them, not the Federal government and not the teachersí unions. The parents are the only hope.