New in the news, President Obama has announced that we are going to move the country forward by spending more money on schools. Billions. There will be all sorts of wonderful new federal money offered to schools as long as they make their tests stricter and get more students to pass. The president lamented that we are paying to educate children who lack basic math and reading skills to make them ready for the workplace or college, costing us billions in remedial education.
Weird, I thought that the student had to pay for remedial courses at college, just as they pay for normal courses? And why are people in need of remedial education even being accepted into college?
And I love how that federal money just appears out of nowhere. Except it doesn’t. So my federal taxes may be going to pay incentives to the embarassingly awful DC schools. Or they may be going to pay federal incentives to Virginia schools… which begs the question: why send the money to DC at all, if it’s just coming back to my state? I mean, besides the illusion of power it gives the federal government.
I read something recently talking about how various interest groups (often the ACLU or NAACP) were responsible for getting aptitude testing effectively killed. If you give a test, you could get sued for discrimination. It doesn’t matter what the test asked, if the percentage of black applicants passing is lower than the percentage of white applicants passing, the courts have said that that constitutes discrimination, since you have an “unequal outcome.”
One of our local police departments (before the gigantic flap about the firefighters’ exam in Connecticut) was nearly sued over its basic entrance exam. The argument was that an unequal percentage of white vs. minority applicants passed. The NAACP was threatening to sue the city. Strangely enough, the test in question was primarily a math test.
A fifth grade teacher wrote the paper to say that about 75% of her class passed the test, and she wondered why on earth an adult would have any problem with a simple math test. For that matter, how could a math test be discriminatory? (Well, the NAACP replied, there was an unequal result, so the test must have been discriminatory.)
The end result is usually that, in order to avoid a lawsuit, the city or office caves in, issues a new test, or gives up entirely on testing. Instead, they institute an equivalent: they require a college degree. That way, someone else (hopefully) did the testing. It also wastes an incredible amount of time and money by forcing kids into college who neither want nor need it, except that they want a decent job, and that means a college degree, because the ACLU and NAACP have declared war on aptitude tests.
Here’s a wild idea for fixing education:
- Merit pay for teachers. Fire bad teachers. (Crazy, I know.)
- School vouchers. Before the current administration let them get killed, vouchers were doing wonderful things in DC… for less cost than keeping the students in the miserable, high-cost DC schools. Yes, some of them went to religiously-based schools. As long as they weren’t told which religions were “acceptable”, I don’t care.
- Disband the federal Department of Education. It has no Constitutional mandate, and funneling money through DC just to give it back to the states does nothing except fund jobs and line pockets in DC.
- Fail students. Hold them back a grade if they haven’t sufficiently mastered the work. Trust me, it’ll be better for their long-term self-esteem than letting them graduate high school without being able to read or get a job. No more “E” for effort, because there isn’t a whole lot of effort involved in getting a 40%.
Ultimately, however, the common denominator in almost all successful students is their parents. The number of books in the house is the key predictor of a child’s success in school. Kindergarden was initially created to compensate for awful parents who totally ignored their children. Now, we’re looking at expanding the public school institutionalization mandate to preschool… because you obviously can’t be trusted with your kids. (Plus, if we try to differentiate between those children who may actually need kindergarden vs. those whose parents are doing just fine reading to them and teaching them to brush their teeth at least daily, well, you’re just begging for the ACLU to get involved. Can’t you just see it? “This is discrimination against the differently-cleaned and reading-challenged parents!”)
Homeschooling is growing in popularity and wildly successful because of the involvement of the parents. Not their education level, not the parents’ training on proper esteem-building techniques or classroom management, not the amount of money they spend. The success is driven by the involvement of the parents.
Parents have been told for decades that they should just leave everything to the experts: the teachers, the schools, the psychologist, the doctor, the parish CCD program.
Oh, yeah, that’s been just wildly successful. Not.
Time for the parents to take back their authority.