Posts Tagged ‘Charter Schools’
This is one of many reasons why we homeschool, but homeschooling is not for everyone. Parents have a God-given right and responsibility to choose the best education for their children. They should NOT be forced into a government monopoly that deliberately undermines the values they are trying to instill in the next generation.
When discussing the school choice issue with other Christians, I often here responses like “How are we supposed to be salt and light in the schools if we pull our kids out?” and “We can counter-act the bad stuff they learn in school by teaching them about God at home and in church.”
These are valid concerns, but the truth is that our children are not being salt and light; rather, they are being corrupted by the very system they are trying to influence. A recent study by the Barna Group found that approximately 70% of kids who grew up in a Christian church were no longer faithful to the church by their 20s. According to Barna, this is a fairly recent phenomenon. During the first half of the 20th century, young adults pretty much stayed faithful to the Christian faith. But this trend changed during the 1960s, when we saw the Bible and prayer taken out of government-run schools while at the same time witnessing the birth of the Sexual Revolution.
For decades, the anti-Christian crowd has been using government-run schools to undermine and attack Christianity. And that strategy continues today. Just last week, the Southern Education Foundation issued a paper claiming that Georgia’s school choice program (where individuals and corporations can receive tax credits for contributing to charitable funds that award scholarships to enable underprivileged kids to attend private schools) is supporting Christian schools with “anti-gay” policies. SEF claims that any private, Christian school that expects it teachers and students to adhere to Biblical standards of conduct—including those that prohibit pre-marital sex, adultery, and homosexual behavior—is “anti-gay” and that those schools should not be allowed to participate in the scholarship program.
If a private school teaching Biblical morality is “anti-gay,” then wouldn’t parents and churches that teach these same ideas also be “anti-gay.” And this is the message that is being taught 8 hours a day, 5 days a week to our kids attending government-run schools. They are taught that Biblical values and beliefs are bigoted, ignorant, and unacceptable. So we if think that 2 hours a week (if that) at church can counter-act 40 hours a week of teaching that Christianity is wrong, we are fooling ourselves.
If you take seriously the Biblical command that you, as a parent, are to train up a child in the way he or she should go, then you realize that the command means more than just taking them to church once or twice a week. It means making sure that every aspect of their education affirms, not mocks, Biblical principles and values.
It is maddening how a century of “progressive education reform” has conditioned American parents to unquestioningly surrender their children to a system that has proven to fail no matter how much money it gets or reforms are tried.
It’s maddening that we have tacitly accepted the notion that government bureaucrats should decide where, when, how, and even what our children learn.
It’s maddening that no matter how much their child’s needs are not being met, poor parents are virtually powerless to do anything about it, while their children remain trapped in failing and – often dangerous – government schools.
Every parent deserves a choice. Every child deserves a chance. It’s LONG past time to take back the power that rightfully belongs to parents to determine what is best for their children when it comes to education.
The third annual National School Choice Week is officially underway. Once again, school choice advocates—including parents, teachers, schoolchildren and administrators, and many others—will come together to promote educational choice, with more than 3,600 events taking place nationwide.
School choice is something to celebrate, because it gives families the power to choose the best schools for their children—helping children to improve educational outcomes and increasing overall parental satisfaction.
School Choice Students Graduate at Higher Rates
For example, students who participate in the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (DCOSP)—a private school voucher program for low-income K-12 students—graduate at significantly higher rates than their peers, according to the results of a “gold standard” (randomized, control group) study. More than 90 percent of DCOSP students graduate high school, compared to just 70 percent of their peers.
Similarly, research reveals that students who participate in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP)—the nation’s longest running school choice program—for all four of their high school years had a 94 percent graduation rate, compared to a 75 percent graduation rate for their peers who attended four years of public high school.
School Choice Means Academic Gains
Research also shows that students who participate in school choice programs do better in school. In a review of all the “gold standard” evaluations of school choice programs in the United States, researchers found that nine of the 10 studies revealed positive, albeit generally modest, academic improvement for school choice students.
Parents Are More Satisfied with their Child’s Academic Experience
Parents of school choice students also report high levels of satisfaction with their children’s schools. In Florida, 93 percent of parents whose children participate in the McKay Scholarship Program—a voucher program for special-needs students—report being satisfied with their child’s school, compared to just 33 percent of parents whose special-needs children were enrolled in public schools. DCOSP parents are also more likely to report satisfaction with their children’s schools and are more likely to describe their schools as safe. And Milwaukee school choice parents also report high satisfaction rates with the schools their children attend.
Education comes in many forms—from private school choice to online learning, to charter schools and public schools and home schooling. Parents should be empowered to give their children the education that best meets their child’s unique learning needs. School choice makes this possible by giving families from every background the ability to set the course for the brightest educational future for their children.
This week, find out how you can get involved in National School Choice Week.
Learn more about Freedom of Education
Learn more about the Separation of School and State
I’ve often said that it’s an incredibly dangerous conflict of interest for any government to be involved in shaping the hearts and minds of future voters and citizens.
Government-run schools have a built-in incentive for teaching the next generation to think the way the ruling class wants them to, to vote for bigger government intrusion into their lives, and to be unquestioningly loyal to the Nanny State, which they are indoctrinated to view as their benefactor.
This is one of MANY reasons why I – a public school graduate myself – choose to homeschool.
The swelling legions of homeschoolers poke a subtle rebuke at America’s ever expanding nanny state. Under both parties,Washington has systematically invaded private spheres and co-opted public services historically performed by local bodies. But a spontaneous groundswell of freedom minded folks has continued America’s rich inheritance of rugged individualism.
The God-fearing, flag-waiving, gun-toting homeschool crowd embodies the American spirit of mutual self-reliance. You won’t encounter a more neighborly bunch. Their children thrive without government “help.” Their support networks blossom sans the state’s sanction. Meanwhile, taxpayers waste a fortune securing abysmal academic results. In 2012, SAT scores fell to their lowest level since tracking began. As spending soars, assessment scores plummet.
The modern homeschool movement comes largely by Christians aghast over an academic establishment overrun by progressives. Schools long ago became laboratories for instilling statism and distilling politically correct groupthink. Values clarification anyone? With public education increasingly geared toward multicultural agitation against America’s godly heritage, many parents resolved to safeguard the hearts, souls and minds of their young.
[...] J. Gresham Machen, the foremost defender of fundamentalism in the modernist controversy of the past century, also led the battle against compulsory public education. A fierce libertarian, Machen cautioned, “If you give the bureaucrats the children, you might as well give them everything else as well.”
We have. See election 2012.
Barack Obama – who spent his past assailing the American system – would not be president without overwhelming support from twenty-somethings imbued with a reverence for the state. No longer the family tree, “government is the only thing we all belong to” claims the ruling party.
Ron Paul senses the urgency, “Expect the rapidly expanding homeschool movement to play a significant role in the revolutionary reforms needed to rebuild a free society with constitutional protections.” Dr. Paul warns, “We cannot expect a federal government controlled school system to provide the intellectual ammunition to combat the dangerous growth of government that threatens our liberties.” Proving his point, homeschool parents were instrumental behind several UN treaties stalling in the Senate.
Like the local self-government formed indigenously by settler communities on America’s frontier, homeschoolers spontaneously built a support apparatus from the ground up. The free market at work, parents can readily access almost any curricula, subject matter or activity.
The Department of Education’s Dr. Patricia Lines countered the notion of homeschoolers withdrawing from America’s social fabric, “Like the Antifederalists these homeschoolers are asserting their historic individual rights so that they may form more meaningful bonds with family and community. In doing so, they are not abdicating from the American agreement. To the contrary, they are affirming it.”
They have it exactly right. If anyone is going to save our nation, it will be the few who have been taught to think for themselves, to buck the system, to question the status quo, and to be reliant on themselves instead of the government.
It is a dangerous conflict of interest for any government to control an education industry which shapes the hearts and minds of future voters. School choice is crucial to breaking the state monopoly and restoring parents’ God-given right to direct the education of their children – which is why the Left so vehemently opposes it.
Though he sends his own children to private school, Obama cares more about pleasing his Big Labor campaign donors than he does about giving poor children a chance to escape failing schools and have the same opportunity as his daughters.
In his State of the Union address last month, President Obama spoke about the importance of kids staying in school and even urged states to raise the dropout age to 18. So it’s passing strange that his new $3.8 trillion budget provides no new money for a school voucher program in Washington, D.C., that is producing significantly higher graduation rates than the D.C. public school average.
The Opportunity Scholarship Program offers vouchers to low-income students to attend private schools. A 2010 study published by Patrick Wolf of the University of Arkansas found that the scholarship recipients had graduation rates of 91%. The graduation rate for D.C. public schools was 56%, and it was 70% for students who entered the lottery for a voucher but didn’t win.
Because the president’s teachers union allies are opposed to school choice for poor people, Mr. Obama ignores or downplays these findings. He repeatedly has tried to shutter the program, even though it is clearly advancing his stated goal of increasing graduation rates and closing the black-white achievement gap.
If there’s one thing unions can’t stand, it’s competition. Like true Marxists, they demand complete control of a complete monopoly, and will be satisfied with nothing less.
MINNESOTA — Charter schools are popping up all across the nation, with 41 states offering families access to the alternative public schools.
Because the large majority of charter schools are not unionized, they can focus solely on serving students instead of pacifying the financial demands of school employee unions.
The unions know they cannot stop the spread of charter schools, so they have decided to take them over.
Late last year, the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers decided to authorize its own charter schools. An email written by MFT President Lynn Nordgren and posted on Eduwonk.com explains the union’s decision.
“ … [C]harter schools are not going away despite 20 years of protesting,” Nordgren writes. “Because of this, it is time to figure out how to… stop the de-professionalization of teaching, the bleeding out of our unions and the miseducation of too many students… It is time to ‘get in the game’ and make it ours.”
We all know that “the miseducation” of students is really the unions’ specialty, and they guard it jealously.
Nordgren writes that the MFT’s decision to open charter schools will “keep our union responsibilities and rights as an option, and make sure teachers are respected and have a voice in the schools in which they work.”
Translation: the unions want charter schools to choke on all their rigid work rules, pay schedules and adult-centered demands which will render the alternative public schools no different than their government-run counterparts.
The union’s new philosophy about charter schools is simple: if you can’t beat ‘em, infiltrate and destroy them from within.
- Teachers unions are the special interest blocking school choice
- The Cartel: Education + Politics = $
- Unions’ new strategy: Intimidation for dummies
- Union Protesters Superglue Catholic School’s Doors Shut, Intimidate Staff & Students During Gov. Walker Visit
- Malkin’s Photo gallery: What Big Labor protesters are teaching kids (language warning)
- Union General Counsel declares “it’s not about children, it’s about power”
- Another thug union puts self-preservation over children
- Teachers Union Recommends its Members Read Saul Alinsky’s “Rules For Radicals”
- American teachers should revolt against corrupt teachers unions
- Time to Stand and Deliver Education Reform: A Tribute to Jaime Escalante
I’ve always viewed vouchers as a temporary measure to wean people off of government schools by opening them up to the wide range of choices that can become possible when the current monopoly is broken. But it’s also true that government money = government control, and that is why a lot of private schools would refuse to accept them even if they were offered.
The recent decision of a Colorado court to halt a first-of-its-kind voucher system instituted by a local school district has, not surprisingly, been subjected to widespread criticism from school choice supporters.
The Heritage Foundation’s Rachel Sheffield, for instance, argues “The judge’s decision is the result of a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union that claims that the program violates the law by providing public money to religious organizations. . . . In typical statist fashion, these claims are born from a philosophy that holds that the money you earn is in fact not yours to keep but instead belongs to the state.”
The problem with this argument, and with vouchers generally, is that voucher money DOESbelong to the state. The recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization v. Winn that Rachel cites here concerned an education tax credit program in Arizona, not a voucher program.
Vouchers are grants of government funds, while tax credits are private funds. The court held that money spent and claimed as a credit, which is never collected in taxes in the first place, remains private money, not government spending like school vouchers. Other taxpayers can’t be harmed by the choices of those claiming credits because each taxpayer gets to decide, individually, what happens to their own money.
Under vouchers, as Justice Kennedy explained, “a dissenter whose tax dollars are ‘extracted and spent’ knows that he has in some small measure been made to contribute to an establishment in violation of conscience. … [By contrast,] awarding some citizens a tax creditallows other citizens to retain control over their own funds in accordance with their own consciences.”
The challenge to the AZ education tax credit program failed because only private funds are involved. A taxpayer challenging a voucher program would have standing under this decision.
State constitutions typically include provisions that are much more restrictive of how state funds can be used in education and which pose much greater threats to voucher programs. Colorado’s court ruling, for instance, identified five separate legal problems with the Douglas County voucher program.
Part of the reason Colorado’s program was stopped in its tracks is a state constitutional provision that reads: “No appropriation shall be made for charitable, industrial, educational or benevolent purposes to any person, corporation or community not under the absolute control of the state, nor to any denominational or sectarian institution or association.”
There is certainly room for a different interpretation of this provision, but ruling that vouchers are in violation of it constitutes neither judicial activism nor statist thinking. Indeed, it could be argued that this is the more conservative, originalist interpretation.
There is simply no way around the fact that vouchers are government funds, subject to whatever constitutional and statutory restrictions a state may place on their use. In the case of education, these restrictions are many and serious.
The most recent and bracing conclusion comes, again, from Arizona. In 2009, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled in Caine v. Horne that voucher programs for disabled and foster children violated a state constitutional ban on aid to private schools because it was an expenditure of government funds. That same court previously upheld a state tax credit program on the grounds that the credits did not constitute an expenditure of government funds. The status of vouchers as government funds was key to the decisions overturning Colorado’s earlier voucher program in 2004 and Florida’s in 2006.
Unlike vouchers, education tax credit programs have withstood every state and federal challenge advanced against them over the past two decades. Major credit programs in Indiana, Florida, Georgia and Pennsylvania – to name a few – have yet to be challenged. And for good reason; they are on solid constitutional ground at both the state and federal level.
Using state money to fund private school choice with vouchers opens a world of serious and legitimate risks to which education tax credits are not vulnerable.
Learn more about Freedom of Education
Learn more about the Separation of School and State
Union Protesters Superglue Catholic School’s Doors Shut, Intimidate Staff & Students During Gov. Walker Visit
Afraid of a little free market competition, are we?
The doors of an inner city Milwaukee Catholic school were super glued shut Thursday ahead of a visit by Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
“Some of these folks super glued our front doors at the prep school,” Messmer Prepatory School President Br. Bob Smith told WTMJ Newsradio.
Smith said a woman was walking around in front of the school, urging people to protest Walker’s visit.
According to Smith, one protestor said, “‘Get ready for a riot,’ because they were going to disrupt the visit.”
Smith said the governor’s Friday visit to read to schoolchildren did not have any political overtones and was unrelated to any of the controversy surrounding Walker and union collective bargaining rights.
“People ought to start acting like adults,” Smith said. “You‘ve got little kids who have no clue what you’re talking about, and you make something political when it isn’t, that’s just flat-out wrong.”
In March, doors at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee were super glued shut before a campus rally to protest Walker’s budget.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker visited Messmer Preparatory Catholic School yesterday, while the school repaired the first vandalism that had occurred at the facility in eleven years of operation. While Walker read Dr. Seuss to the grade-school children inside, unions protested the visit and the school outside. Want to guess which group was more well-behaved? Actually, you don’t have to guess. TheMacIver Institute shot video of the protest and the visit and then interviewed Messmer’s President, Brother Bob Smith. We see childishness, petulance, and bullying — and then we see Messmer’s students (via Wisconsin Reporter)
It got ugly on the street outside the facility, which is no surprise, since Messmer is a “choice school” — an alternative to the union-gripped public school system. It’s an alternative that sends 85% of its high-school graduates to college. It’s also no surprise that “choice schools” threaten the union’s power in the state, which gave them extra added incentive to protest Walker’s visit … and to attempt to intimidate Messmer staff while doing so. The video provides a jarring disconnect between the well-behaved students on the inside and Brother Bob’s explanation of teaching positive discipline and self-control to the self-indulgent nastiness taking place on the sidewalk outside.
Education elites and their political cronies have implemented countless initiatives aimed at reforming education. From the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, every plan put forth has resulted in nothing but inefficient expenditures, new layers of bureaucracy, and continuing declines in student achievement.
Education will only be reformed once parents and entrepreneurs are free to create real alternatives to the broken systems that exist today. Repealing compulsory-education laws and allowing parents to spend their education dollars freely should be the first steps in this direction.
Curiously, compulsory-education laws, which conscript children into state-regulated programs of study, are rarely discussed in the context of education reform; these laws’ ostensibly benevolent nature allows demagogues to marginalize detractors and quell any attempt at serious discourse. This results in far-reaching regulations that control how private actors educate, and thus prohibits students from getting the individualized education they need.
The origin of compulsory education was characterized by oppression and forced assimilation. The modern movement was initially led by Martin Luther and the early Protestants, who sought to inculcate the masses with their religious views. Despotic Prussia was the first to enact laws at the national level, and compulsory education quickly became a weapon of choice for states seeking to destroy troublesome cultures and languages. In the United States, Massachusetts began enforcing mandatory attendance in 1852, and by 1918 every state had enacted similar legislation. The primary impetus for policymakers was to assimilate poor immigrant children; labor unions were also ardent supporters, as they sought to decrease the supply of labor in the workforce.
Current laws vary by state in details, but they are quite homogeneous in spirit. All require a minimum amount of instructional time (ranging from 160 to 186 days annually) at approved institutions. The majority of Americans between the ages of 5 and 18 are compelled to meet this requirement, with several states enforcing slightly more lenient laws. Although parents are free to pursue private education for their children, such options are almost always regulated by state governments.
There is likely a minority of children who benefit from compulsory education. While these outliers are by no means insignificant, the benefits accrued to them do not justify the aggregate effects imposed. To objectively evaluate the merits of such laws, we must fully account for all of their costs. Evaluating the effects on private forms of education is a good starting point.
Private schools and homeschools are rarely truly free-market alternatives to government-regulated education. By mandating attendance, states have a virtual stranglehold on the nature of private education. After all, in order to become a state-approved program of study at which “official” attendance is recognized, private actors are forced to satisfy some combination of curricular, reporting, and testing requirements.
In New York, for instance, homeschools must submit a notice of intent, maintain attendance records, file quarterly reports, and submit Individualized Home Instruction Plans for state approval. Additionally, students must successfully complete an annual assessment, including mandatory yearly standardized testing for grades nine and above. Perhaps most problematic, however, is its mandate that instruction given to a child must be “at least substantially equivalent to minors of like age or attainments at public schools,” an edict clearly susceptible to abuse by state officials. This forces parents to comply with the belief systems of distant regulators who are free to define “substantially equivalent” as they see fit.
In the event that a parent’s personal values oppose those of the state, the state’s interests will ultimately prevail. This conflict prompted Murray Rothbard to note that at the heart of the compulsory-education debate is “the idea that children belong to the State rather than to their parents.” If you attempt to challenge this notion, your child may be labeled “truant,” and you may be subjected to fines, imprisonment, and the forcible return of their child to his or her zoned public school. Compulsory education thus imposes the state’s definition of “education” on all parties falling under its auspices — even those pursuing a “private” course of study.
The state’s monopoly on what defines “education” inevitably suppresses alternative views, thereby eliminating the complexity and diversity that should be prevalent in the market. Instead, a homogenous system is used to serve heterogeneous students — yet another cost of compulsory education.
The natures of schools should be as diverse as the population itself. Curriculum, delivery method, and instructional time are but a few of the myriad variables that must be customized if the individual needs of a child are to be met. Rothbard noted the advantage of unfettered development of private schools in that “there will tend to be developed on the free market a different type of school for each type of demand.”
Regulations that mandate the character of instruction only serve to silence demand and prevent entrepreneurship and innovation. It is impossible to know the shape and scope of programs that would come into existence otherwise; churches, civic organizations, and entrepreneurs should be permitted to innovate freely.
The poor and middle class are most injured by the lack of innovation that results from government monopoly on education, as they are without the means to pursue the artificially limited supply of private education available. Instead, their children are forced to attend underperforming public schools that often have little regard for the unique faculties of individual students. It is likely that the generalized education imposed on them will do nothing but retard their development, suppress their talent, and instill in them a permanent disdain for learning.
Learn more about Freedom of Education
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Pundits like David Brooks of the New York Times lament that the deficit-cutting mood supposedly sweeping the United States is myopically targeting education in favor of more powerful constituencies. “If you look across the country, you see education financing getting sliced — often in the most thoughtless and destructive ways,” Brooks writes. “The future has no union.” In Washington, he adds, early-childhood programs might be slashed, and
Many governors of both parties are diverting money from schools in thoughtless and self-destructive ways. Hawaii decided to cut the number of days in the school year. Of all the ways to cut education, why on earth would you reduce student time in the classroom?
Texas is taking the meat cleaver approach. School financing will be cut by at least 13.5 percent, around $3.5 billion. About 85,000 new students arrive in Texas every year. There will be no additional resources to accommodate them.
To Brooks’s relief, the Obama administration has at least one voice of sanity:
Education Secretary Arne Duncan gave a superb speech in November called the New Normal. He observed that this era of austerity should be an occasion to increase productivity and cut the things that are ineffective.
As though a bureaucrat’s bromides about increasing productivity and reducing ineffectiveness stands a chance of righting what’s wrong with education. We’ve had quite a lot of that over the years, with little to show for it. Education budgets went up; the quality of education did not.
There’s a reason for that: bureaucracy. That’s the antonym of “competitive entrepreneurial undertaking.” If we’re truly in a budget-cutting mood and wish to breathe life into education at the same time, we should de-bureaucratize schools by putting them entirely into the entrepreneurial arena: the marketplace.
I do not mean vouchers or charter schools. At best they operate according to a constricted model of competition tended by education bureaucrats and legislative bodies. The central flaw in these “reforms” is taxpayer financing. As long as the money comes through government, demands will be made for schools to be accountable to government rather than parents and students, setting limits to competition. Tax financing also reduces individual responsibility, while limiting — because of the double payment — most people’s ability to break out of the system altogether.
Moreover, financing learning through the compulsion of taxation is perverse. Education should be a consensual relationship among parents, children, and (when necessary) formal teachers. I’m fond of Isabel Paterson’s questions to teachers in her book The God of the Machine: “Do you think nobody would willingly entrust his children to you or pay you for teaching them? Why do you have to extort your fees and collect your pupils by compulsion?”
What’s Really Radical?
No school taxes and no compulsory attendance. Sounds radical, but what’s really radical is the State’s asserting the power of parens patriae over children and forcing everyone to pay for the outrage. As education historian E. G. West noted, it did not take laws to achieve virtually universal education in the nineteenth century (among the free population). But it did take laws to give us schools that function like indoctrination centers, preaching the glory of government while preparing children to be quiescent taxpaying citizens who will take their place in industry, the bureaucracy, or the military. Today the goal is to train the personnel necessary to assure America’s status as the undisputed leader of the global economy, as though the world marketplace were a race among nations.
My references to competition, entrepreneurship, and markets do not imply that education should be provided by for-profit firms only or even predominantly. A freed education market would include nonprofits, co-ops, extended homeschooling, and things no one has thought of yet. The key is to liberate all participants from the heavy hand of bureaucracy. No authority should interpose itself between aspiring providers competing with one another and consumers of education services. Only then will the “discovery procedure” that F. A. Hayek identified with competition be fully ignited.
What about the Poor?
That’s the inevitable question. The irony is that poor children in this society have been treated disgracefully by government school authorities. It is sheer chutzpah for advocates of “public education” to say they worry about the poor after having inflicted and/or tolerated such abuse for so long.
The poor would stand a much better chance in a freed education environment. If some of the most destitute places on earth manage to have private for-profit schools for poor children, then so can the United States, especially if the shackles were removed. Of course, there would be far fewer poor people in a freed society.
Will School be separated from State any time soon? Unlikely. The public-school industry, including the unions and all the vendors selling things to school districts, is big, rich, and powerful. The education-industrial complex surely rivals the military-industrial complex in its capacity to consume tax revenues.
But if for no other reason, the dismal fiscal condition of the states makes this a good time to talk about separation. It certainly won’t happen if nobody ever mentions it.
How would we go about it? I’ve long thought the best way would be simply to turn each school over to the people who work in it. Let them run the schools and compete independently of government without tax revenues. An alternative would be to turn the schools over to the parents if they want them. Just get them away from the bureaucracy.
Brooks is right. Education is important – far too important to leave to politicians and bureaucrats.
Learn more about Freedom of Education
Learn more about the Separation of School and State
I love teachers. I really do. And I’m certain that, truth be known, most are overworked and underpaid. No one is certainly getting rich from teaching kids. I applaud the hard-working teachers across this land.
But what are our state legislators to do if states are going broke? Never ask teachers and other public workers to contribute to a further share of costs, like millions of others are forced to do because of tough economic times? I believe the children are our future, but they’ll have no future if our states and the U.S. go down the fiscal tubes.
And, like in Wisconsin, when teachers unions muscle legislators like the mafia, and Democrats abandon their voting posts because they don’t like projected outcomes, haven’t we abandoned the very foundational principles of our republic? Where was the “be civil” mainstream media police Friday morning when union demonstrators literally screamed at legislators on the Wisconsin assembly floor while they voted on legislation?
Another proof of union monopoly came out Tuesday, when Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board released a report that disclosed the top 10 lobbying groups in the state. Look who is at the top of the list – No. 1:
1. Wisconsin Education Association, 7,239 hours, $1,511,272
2. Wisconsin Insurance Alliance, 1,427 hours, $777,430
3. Forest County Potawatomi Community, 1,492 hours, $756,512
4. Altria Client Services Inc., 1,321 hours, $755,733
5. Wisconsin Hospital Association, 5,126, $605,033
The Wisconsin Education Association leads the pack of lobbyists compared to its closest lobbying competitor with twice as much spending ($1.5 million) and five times the amount of advocate hours (7,239 hours) in pursuit to buy, bribe and bamboozle legislators to do as it wants.
What also chaps my hide is that a gigantic chunk of the WEA’s gangster monies and time is used to lobby against alternative choices in schools (including charter schools) and against tuition tax credit programs that aid parents to send their children to private schools.
The fact is that teachers-union-sponsored protests spreading across the land are not primarily about the teachers or the students. They are about the unions and feds maintaining their mafia-style rule over education and our kids, and preventing parents and anyone else from choosing educational alternatives.
As a homeschooling mother of three, it bothers me that I am still forced to pay for a product that I neither want nor use – public schools, who are forced to hire union teachers, who are forced to pay union dues, which end up in the campaign coffers of politicians who consistently oppose school choice and education reforms. When did this stop being the land of the free? What right do they have to take away parents’ choices, and use our OWN tax money against us?
Terence Jeffrey argues at the Patriot Post that it’s time for a real change:
With the entire nation watching, Wisconsinites are now debating whether the state’s public school teachers ought to be required to pay 5.8 percent of their wages to support their own retirement plans and 12.6 percent of their own health-insurance premiums, and also whether their union ought to be able to negotiate a pay increase on their behalf that exceeds the rate of inflation without letting voters approve or disapprove that raise in a referendum.
What Wisconsin ought to be debating is whether these public school teachers should keep their jobs at all.
Then every state ought to follow Wisconsin in the same debate.
It is time to drive public schools out of business by driving them into an open marketplace where they must directly compete with schools not run by the government or staffed by members of parasitic public employees’ unions.
The well-documented incompetence of America’s public schools — including Wisconsin’s — is damaging our nation. Their educational product is simply not good enough for our children. In some cases, it is toxic.
According to data collected and published by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Wisconsin’s public schools have been consuming more and more tax dollars over the years while doing a consistently miserable job educating children in the basics of reading and math.
Nor are Wisconsin’s public schools unusual.
In 2009, only 30 percent of American public school eighth-graders earned a rating of “proficient” or better in reading. Only 32 percent earned a rating of “proficient” or better in math.
This ignorance did not come cheap. Nationwide, according to the NCES, public schools spent $10,297 per pupil in fiscal 2008.
Does anybody do better with less money? Yes.
In 2009, the eighth-graders in Catholic schools averaged 281 out of 500 on the NAEP reading test — 19 points higher than the average American public school eighth-grader and 15 points higher than the average eighth-grader in a Wisconsin public schools. On the math test, eighth-graders in Catholic schools averaged 297 out of 500, compared to an average of 282 for eighth-graders in public schools nationwide and 288 for public school eighth-graders in Wisconsin.
In the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, as noted on the archdiocese’s website, Catholic elementary school tuitions range from $900 per child at St. Adalberts in Milwaukee to the $5,105 for a non-parishioner child at St. Alphonsus in Greenhdale.
In addition to being less expensive and better than public schools at teaching math and reading, Catholic schools — like any private schools — can also teach students that there is a God, that the Ten Commandments are true and must be followed, that the Founding Fathers believed in both and that, ultimately, American freedom depends on fidelity to our Judeo-Christian heritage even more than it depends on proficiency in reading and math.
What every state in the union ought to do is take a look at the public school teachers protesting in Wisconsin, take a look at the test scores for the nation’s public school students, take a look at the $10,000 per year it typically takes to keep a child in a public school and pass new laws with three simple provisions: 1) every parent of every child in every school district in the state shall receive an annual voucher equal to the per-pupil cost of maintaining a child in the state’s public schools, 2) they shall be entitled to redeem this voucher at any school they like, and 2) the state shall not regulate the private schools, period.
Let American parents decide who will be their partners in forming the hearts and minds of their children.
When was the last time you saw this kind of chaos swirling around a PRIVATE school? You haven’t.
Why not? Because private schools, their teachers and administrators answer to their customers - the parents and students – not politicians, not unions, not social engineers and experimenters, not the hundreds of special interests whose children don’t even attend that school!
Putting the education of our children under the control of government bureaucrats and the lobbyists who pull their strings is one of the BIGGEST mistakes our country has ever made, and nothing less than the future of our nation is at stake.
The protests in Wisconsin reveal the true colors of those who have REALLY been in control of the education industry for the past century, and how far they are willing to go when their strangehold on the next generation (and the taxpayer money that follows them) is threatened. It also reveals a deeper problem: what happens when a nation abdicates its God-given responsibilities to the state.
We have allowed the state to take God out of our children’s schools and fill their minds with the world’s ”alternative” truth claims of moral relativism, socialism and secular humanism, cleverly woven into lessons on history, language arts, and science. Many Christian parents cannot even discern this because they themselves were educated this way, and have not taken the time, effort and discipline to re-educate themselves in these areas according to God’s worldview (and the church has been lacking in instructing them). We have allowed entire generations of Americans to believe they were educated and intelligent, when the Bible tells us that ”The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1-3), and ”The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 1:7).
Our Founders well understood this:
“The only foundation for a useful education in a republic is to be laid in religion. Without this there can be no virtue, and without virtue there can be no liberty, and liberty is the object and life of all republican governments.” ~ Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence
“We profess to be republicans, and yet we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government, that is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by the means of the Bible. For this Divine Book, above all others, favors that equality among mankind, that respect for just laws, and those sober and frugal virtues, which constitute the soul of republicanism.” ~ Benjamin Rush
“Public utility pleads most forcibly for the general distribution of the Holy Scriptures. The doctrine they preach, the obligations they impose, the punishment they threaten, the rewards they promise, the stamp and image of divinity they bear, which produces a conviction of their truths, can alone secure to society, order and peace, and to our courts of justice and constitutions of government, purity, stability and usefulness. In vain, without the Bible, we increase penal laws and draw entrenchments around our institutions. Bibles are strong entrenchments. Where they abound, men cannot pursue wicked courses, and at the same time enjoy quiet conscience.” ~ James McHenry, signer of the Constitution
“The evil that has resulted from the error of the schools, in teaching natural philosophy as an accomplishment only, has been that of generating in the pupils a species of atheism. Instead of looking through the works of creation to the Creator himself, they stop short, and employ the knowledge they acquire to create doubts of his existence. They labour with studied ingenuity to ascribe every thing they behold to innate properties of matter, and jump over all the rest by saying, that matter is eternal.” ~ Thomas Paine
““I lament that we waste so much time and money in punishing crimes and take so little pains to prevent them…we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government; that is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by means of the Bible; for this Divine Book, above all others, constitutes the soul of republicanism.” “By withholding the knowledge of [the Scriptures] from children, we deprive ourselves of the best means of awakening moral sensibility in their minds.” ~ Benjamin Rush
“”To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoys. . . . Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government, and all blessings which flow from them, must fall with them.” ~ Jedediah Morse
“What students would learn in American schools above all is the religion of Jesus Christ.” ~ George Washington
“Education is useless without the Bible.” ~ Noah Webster
Is it any wonder that our culture has become ever more corrupt and immoral, when we have ignored the wisdom of our fathers and handed each subsequent generation over to fools who deny these truths?
Where is the church in this crucial hour? Why are they silent in the face of this evil? This is not just a political battle, it’s a spiritual one – a battle to decide who is REALLY in charge of shaping the minds of the next generation of citizens and voters. The Enemy will not give up his captives without a fight.
Will the church finally stand up and speak the truth? God has delegated the education of children to parents. THEY must decide when, where and how their children will be educated, and by whom, and with what worldview - and they must answer to God for those choices.
Our nation has sinned against God by turning that responsibility over to government, which leads to the corruption, lies and power struggles we are now facing.
Learn more about Freedom of Education
Learn more about the Separation of School and State
With the release of movies like “Waiting for Superman”, “The Lottery”, and “The Cartel”, more and more Americans are beginning to realize that they must engage in the battle for the very future of our children. These movies are a visual wake-up call and and indictment against the status quo. For our family, the awakening came a few years ago.
Like most parents, when your child is succeeding in public school, you don’t worry too much about what other choices are available to you. I figured since I pay property taxes, business taxes, income taxes…etc that I would continue to send my children to the local zoned school in my district. That is until we realized just how far behind our son really was.
I’m not a disconnected parent. In fact, I was in constant contact with my son’s school and his teacher. For years I had concerns, and at every teacher’s conference or meeting I was told that my son was doing fine and “not to worry.” At the end of the fourth grade year, my son had not passed a single state mandated test. I was NEVER informed of his struggles and at that point we realized that my son was over two years behind in reading and at least three years behind in math.
After weeks of meeting with education specialists, private schools, tutors, bureaucrats, school superintendents etc, we finally found a solution that we felt was right for our family. The choice we made was an online public school offered by Connections Academy. No sooner did we settle into the new reality of semi-homeschool, did our battle to educate our son begin.
Within days of enrolling our son, we were notified by a state legislator that these online public charter schools were being targeted by the local teacher’s unions. The bill the unions and state democrat representatives were supporting would eventually completely shut down these schools by requiring a 50% in district registration requirement. The bill passed down straight party lines.
I was shocked to find out that the Oregon Education Association’s number one legislative priority was shutting down these public schools, simply because the teachers at these schools are not unionized. Over fifty percent of the children that attend these online public charter schools are below federal poverty levels. What other choices did these families have? Who was speaking on behalf of the thousands of children on waiting lists to attend these charter schools? It was on that day that we fully engaged in the fight for school choice and education reform.
Fast forward to today:
- Most importantly my son is succeeding with A’s and B’s in advanced classes.
- This legislative session, there are several “fix-it” bills to try to reduce the damage caused to education reform last session.
- Several legislators are working to bring Florida style education reform to Oregon.
- Oregon lawmakers are working directly with parent advocates as they work to reform Oregon’s abysmal education system.
Oregon children have a brighter future with a balanced house and pro-reform legislators, but we can’t back down. For the last three and a half years I have worked nearly every waking moment to change the political landscape in our state. I’ve worked to educate and empower parents to get involved and make a difference in the battles that are important to them. It is working, albeit slower than I’d like, but it’s working.
What I hope our story does is encourage EVERY parent to get involved in school reform in your state. One person can make a difference, and thousands can change the lives of millions of children trapped in a failing education system.
To find out more about our story and the battles we face, read more about “A Mother’s Plea for School Choice”.