Archives for posts with tag: public education

My local state representative, Andy, shared an article by John, a former teacher turned legislator (by statute, not choice, a statute I’m not sure I support). Andy and John are in the minority party in Oklahoma. I seldom agree with the minority party, but I find myself supporting them almost as often as the majority party. I’m registered independent. I can’t even aline with the Libertarian Party. I think I’m about as Libertarian as anyone might be, but I can’t get into the Party aspects of it and some of the policies.

Anyway, in the article that John wrote, he said, “As teachers, we need to realize that teaching is a political act. It affects everyone, and therefore we need to advocate for good policies that invest public resources wisely in the common good.”

I absolutely oppose such a course of action. It is abuse of power. It is abuse of children. Teaching is not a political act, at least not by honest people who only care about children learning and gaining mastery of tools to meet the challenges of life.

I replied with several comments on Andy’s Facebook page. I’m listing some.

Andy, it truly saddens me that you and Mr. Waldron advocate politicizing our government run classrooms. He decries partisan politics but advocates for indoctrinating our children in the policies of the Democratic Party. How do either of you justify that?

Andy promptly replied that he does not advocate that, but he didn’t explain why he shared the article. Perhaps I’ll ask specifically.

I also commented:

“As teachers, we need to realize that teaching is a political act. It affects everyone, and therefore we need to advocate for good policies that invest public resources wisely in the common good.” There are no public resources. The only money government has was taken under threat of force from supposedly free individuals who earned their wages by the honest sweat of their own brows.

Why are my policies bad and yours good?

John replied:

I really don’t know where to begin. You apparently believe there should be no taxes for schools, or I suppose roads, national security or public health. I don’t think we can bridge that gap over facebook. Perhaps you would like to meet face to face? I promise to read up on Bastiat to prepare for our discussion.

His reference to Bastiat might stem from the fact I’ve posted a few items about Bastiat recently, and I invited Andy and my local senator, Rob, to comment. So, a couple of my Facebook shares about Bastiat showed on Andy’s page just below Andy’s shared article.

I replied to John that he assumes too much.

I appreciate Andy’s comment:

I absolutely do *not* advocate for politicizing classrooms. Teachers should teach students how to think for themselves — not *what* to think.

Not all parents are like you. There are tens of thousands of kids in this state who don’t even live with their parents. They are institutionalized, shuffled in foster care, living with distant relatives, etc. 

What of them?

To which I replied:

Them, I won’t forget. I do not advocate for no government school, just no government coercion. I want less government because I see the net result of more government as causing more harm than good. Less government might find us a sweet spot where we seldom complain of it, or the other political party. Less is often more.

I don’t believe government schools will be driven out by school choice. I don’t like vouchers, and Epic is a rotten taste in my mouth at the moment. I’ve never supported the schemes and plans for choice. The plans all seem to have too many flaws. Government money invariably leads to waste, fraud, and abuse, and giving government money to private parties has the most likelihood of graft and selfish ambition ensuring waste, fraud, and abuse, and good intentions too often have bad side effects.

End truancy laws, and let parents be in charge of their own children with full responsibility. Most parents will step up. It is government as fallback that is the root of most of the deficiencies that lead to so many parents being in tough circumstances. It isn’t a perfect world. Life really is suffering, and government cannot fix that. Democratic Party policies cannot fix it. GOP policies cannot fix it. Advocacy groups of whatever stripe cannot fix it. Only personal responsibility can fix it. Be the change you want to see in the world. DON’T write a law pretending the State can fix it. Don’t assume sending the guys with guns will set all to rights.

How long will we keep screaming that more money will fix the schools or the police? It doesn’t work. It cannot work. It isn’t a matter of policy. It is a matter of misplaced responsibility and accountability. The State is not accountable. The State cannot be held accountable. The State can only be limited. When the power of the State is too limited for power-seekers to abuse it, government will stop being abusive. Then out-of-balance party politics won’t be so corrupting. Government is the problem, not balance. We have to have some authority, but we have gone much too far, especially in government enforcement of schooling.

If government schooling is so good, why can’t it be given the chance to fend for itself? I believe enough people will demand it for it to continue. I think there is ample justification for our current system until we have something clearly better. (I don’t see anything clearly better taking over in our lifetimes.) I don’t want rid of government-funded public schools. I want rid of coercive laws that make mothers feel powerless to fight for their children. I want Momma to be able to stand up for her child for herself, not dependent upon support from government and teachers’ unions.

Do you not understand that parents with children who have problems in the schools feel powerless? It is not because of lack of programs. It is because the parents have no alternatives. That is the fault of truancy laws and current government policies, policies mostly advocated by both major parties. (I again emphasize it is NOT a party problem.)

Literacy rates [in North America] were highest before government schools and truancy laws. Government schools have not helped. How many copies of Common Sense sold? How many were pirated and copied by anyone with the wherewithal? It seems to me too many had (and have) motive to exaggerate the numbers, but the pamphlet was not light reading, and it was widely read, and widely read aloud. There is no doubt the written word and civic responsibility were strong in our land long before any of our modern conventions. “Knowledge is power.” What parent doesn’t know that? What parent conscientiously deprives offspring of any and all tools that might equip them for the trials of life?

The point isn’t schooling. The point isn’t even education. The point is learning and mastering tools for living meaningful lives. The goal of every parent is helping children achieve their potential, or at least to do better. Each generation wants the next generation to do better. Our government-enforced schools are thwarting that now. Our government at all levels works at cross purposes to all that free citizens try to accomplish, and it applies to citizens of all ages.

We err when we consider children as less than citizens. Every individual at every stage of life is self-sovereign. We are all partners. Yes, children are childish, and we parents have extra responsibilities, but it is a partnership. It is not a dictatorship where the parent rules. It is a gradual turning over of responsibility to the child at each stage of maturity.

Obviously, I’ve grown too verbose. I hope there is something in this that gives you a bit of insight into my perspective.

I support school choice, but I haven’t found any programs or laws for choice that I can back. Such programs still depend on government authority and threat of force no matter how it is set up. I want freedom of choice, not programs for choice. Children learn if we let them. A gentle guiding hand can accomplish wonders in a child’s own learning.

Constitutionally outlaw truancy laws.

I added:

The key challenge to choice is leaving the choice to the individual. When an authority dictates, or simply endorses, the authority is responsible. No bureaucrat can satisfactorily be held accountable under all but the most extreme situations of criminality. We have the wherewithal now in our digital age to hold everyone individually accountable by reputation. The systems are immature and flawed, but I doubt most individual-based review systems are more error-prone than our bureaucracies.

Leave choices to the individuals. Don’t rule by law. Law is power. Power corrupts. There are no exceptions. Knowledge is the only power I’m eager to leave unfettered.

Andy and John haven’t had time to reply more.

John’s article listed significant credentials for him. I suggest John Taylor Gatto had more credentials and a more fascinating story.

https://www.johntaylorgatto.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Taylor_Gatto

https://fee.org/articles/john-taylor-gatto-1935-2018-remembering-americas-most-courageous-teacher/

https://www.naturalchild.org/articles/guest/john_gatto.html

For those who hold to authoritarian views and formal organization and lesson planning by “experts” I suggest looking into the work of Sugata Mitra.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugata_Mitra

http://www.hole-in-the-wall.com/

His TED talks are easy to find, and here is a recent article:

https://universe.byu.edu/2019/03/26/physicist-encourages-change-in-the-use-of-technology-in-education/

Personally, I advocate for homeschooling without rigid standards. Reading aloud to a child from the earliest age, and routinely, is the most effective thing we can do for children. There really aren’t any hard and fast rules for what a person needs to know now. We need to know how to read, but living the example as adults is far better than a schoolroom. There isn’t much else we need to know to get along in the world because of the ease of use of technology.

Decry tech and screens all you want, but that is our world now. We are not going back. I have access to anything I want to study, anything. A screen and internet access extends my reach to anything I might need. Children will learn all they need if we just guide a little and let them learn. They will learn to love the classics because that is why they are classics, because we love them. The same goes for anything they need. They will want it, and if we don’t hinder them, they will learn it. They will master the tools they need to reach their potential and to be assets to partners, families, communities, and society at large.

For further reading, go to FEE.org , and I especially recommend Kerry McDonald, https://fee.org/people/kerry-mcdonald/

Who Do Teachers Work For?

First, why, in public education, are teachers paid, pretty much, all the same? In life, everything sorts. Some are good at something, most are not. Those who are good sort further into adequate, competent, good, better, outstanding, etc. Shouldn’t the best be paid more than the mediocre? Can’t the mediocre acknowledge their lot and either be content or strive more diligently?

Think back. Didn’t you have a few poor teachers? Weren’t most of your teachers good? Perhaps you had one or two really great teachers, perhaps none, very unlikely more than two. Obviously, the compensation and recognition of the best should be more than the lesser. (Some won’t agree. They have their reasonings and rationalizations.)

Back to the question: For whom do teachers work?

If I hire a teacher to tutor my child, obviously the teacher works for me. Of course, government-organized schools add several complications, but let us consider this simple case.

If I hire a teacher, we two set the pay. We two set the conditions and guidelines for the education. For the most part, I can alter any pertinent consideration, and the teacher can agree or tender resignation. Where circumstances set such arrangements, they are typically mutually beneficial, and mutually satisfactory and fulfilling. This one-on-one arrangement cannot exist in the public school, in the government dictated school. It is the nature of authoritarianism. (Perhaps some of the downside can be mitigated, but that is another topic.)

Let us assume the teacher and I have agreed her duties also include full supervisory responsibilities during the workday, such that she is caregiver for my seven-year-old as well as teacher. Perchance, she recognizes that just down the road, she could earn at least 20% more than I pay her. If she decides she needs a raise (or she will seek her fortune down the road) she can ask for a raise or other consideration. Let us assume I simply am at my budget limits. I cannot pay more or provide any additional consideration that extracts from my budget elsewhere, or I will fall in arrears. Assume I am blacklisted and no one will lend to me. I have no ability to pay more. It is reasonable for said teacher to give notice. She has no future obligation past a reasonable notice. However, would not all agree that she treats me diabolically if she calls me at work the next morning and states she will abandon me and my child at this very moment if I agree not to an 18% raise. (She asserts she is compromising, meeting me part way. Of course, she is also insisting I hire a helper for her.)

Think it through. How is a teacher walkout here in Oklahoma any different in the general sense?

Certainly, there are differences in the details, but how is what the teacher’s unions propose any less extortion versus what I suppose of this fictitious nanny-teacher?

Am I exaggerating that the budget is set? Am I exaggerating that no money can be borrowed? Am I exaggerating the example of extortion with the child held hostage at threat of abandonment?

You may not like my candor, but you cannot call me a liar. These are the facts.

Teachers in the government-dictated public schools still, notionally, work for the parents, yes? Of course, yet there are many complications.

While the ideal is that the teacher is accountable to the parents of the children in her classroom, the fact is, most of those parents are hardly involved. Sadly, most of those who are involved draw the ire of the teachers and administration for being meddlesome. Involved parents may help in one area, but such parents hinder accomplishment of legislative dictates and administrative objectives. If you doubt my assertion here, I consider it probable you are not significantly involved in your children’s school.

The practical matter is the teacher answers not to the parents, but to the signer of her paycheck. She answers to the principal, to the school board, and to the bureaucracy. Let us not overlook the complicating factor that the bureaucracy includes that of the school, that of the state, and that of her union.

In the final analysis, she works for and answers to the principal and this complex of bureaucratic requirements and expectations. When the bureaucracy demands she abandons the children, holding them hostage and extorting the parents, what else can she do? While she probably worries that she will not be paid while on strike, she knows she will not be paid if she is pushed out by the bureaucrats. Our teachers are in a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t conundrum.

While the ground truth is harsh, the right thing is clear. Teachers owe loyalty to the students and the parents. If teachers abandon and betray the students and parents…

No one respects a betrayal. Cowardice is the one failing that always hurts, always hurts in every way, always hurts everyone affected, everyone who remembers, everyone failed by the coward, especially the coward.

Hate has its pleasures. Hate is too often used to cover the pain of cowardice. Blame and shame casting, likewise.

The simple fact of the matter is teachers are betraying those they work for and those for whom they are responsible. There is no sin greater than betrayal.

Frankly, if you can’t hack it, get out. What is the adage? First, do no harm. Only harm comes from betrayal. Accept responsibility and acknowledge the truth and stand faithful. Lead by example, not coercion.

Again, remain faithful. Lead by example, not coercion.

Micah 6:8

Writing for Newsweek, , discusses the low morale of teachers in public education.

http://www.newsweek.com/why-has-teacher-morale-plummeted-321447

Like, no duh, huh?

He points out that the current problem started in the 1980s. It started even before the Civil War, but the problems today are largely the doings of Jimmy Carter and the Democrats of the early 1980s. Reagan tried to stop it. He said he would, but he failed. Tip O’Neill mattered in that. Most of our education problems today are mostly, originally, Tip O’Neill’s fault. (Bushes and Clintons share a lot of blame and responsibility in our education problems, too.)

Mr. Ward points out that 40-50% of our new teachers leave the profession within five years. Wow. There are no reforms we can do to the education system and hope to fix it while none of our teachers have significant experience in teaching. Nothing!

The first requirement to any fix in education is get rid of compulsory education. Repeal all truancy laws. All of them. Our education system will continue to worsen until we get rid of compulsory education laws. Compulsion, coercion, is always immoral. The only justification for any coercion is the clear and imminent threat of harm. There is no clear threat associated with lack of education for children. There certainly is no imminent threat.

Compulsory laws for education are evil. The history of it is sad. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compulsory_education

Second requirement: Let the teachers teach!

Get out of their way. Get back to the principal and district superintendent running the school, trusting the teachers, proving them out one-on-one with the students and parents, and get out of the way.

Get the Fed out entirely. We need to amend the Constitution. Add the words “or education” to the First Amendment, like this, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or education, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;…” Our Federal government should treat education the exact same way it treats religion, totally hands off.

Our states need to back it down to the counties. We need to acknowledge that there is no overriding interest of the state in our children. We, including our children, are citizens. We all need equal protection. We all need equal standing. Sure, minors must be specially defined until the age of majority, but 18 is really probably older than we need for most things.

Well, enough today. I found Ward’s article worthwhile, and it slapped me hard that it is impossible to fix the public education system when most of our teachers have less than five years experience. It is impossible. We have to figure out how to fix that first. We cannot fix it by meddling.

I would support a plan like this, http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2013/11/how-the-a-plus-act-can-rein-in-the-governments-education-power-grab, because I believe it will be an improvement. However, it leaves the root of the problem intact. It leaves the federal government involved and funding education. There are necessary strings attached to federal money. We need rid of those strings more than anything else in public education.

We need to amend the constitution such that the first amendment includes the words “or education”.

Like this: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or education, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Of course, the primary change we must make in public education is the elimination of all compulsion laws. Compulsory education is immoral. No good can come of it in the end.

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