Monday, August 17, 2009

Public Education: Government Making Your Child More Stupid (and Making You Pay For It)

As the nation is in conflict over giving the government control over a sixth of the nation's economy and a rather important part of our lives, perhaps we should recall what happened when we gave them control of another important part of our lives: education.

Now, almost everyone makes jokes about how stupid high-schoolers are, and have probably heard such from me- but let's consider the subject seriously. We'll forget for a moment that the primary purpose of public education was to indoctrinate children (as John Dewey himself said so often, or liberal icon Woodrow Wilson put it: "Our problem is not merely to help the students to adjust themselves to world life...[but] to make them as unlike their fathers as we can.") You see, the greatest source of resistance to "progressive", state-enlarging and authoritarian change is the nuclear family, since it instills morals that the state might not agree with. Thus we have liberals constantly trying to bring us government-run pre-school, so that they might ruin our children earlier.

But putting that issue aside, I think with an impending expansion of government control over us it might be useful to remember how effective our government has been in the past with other large programs. We could look at the post office, which is notoriously inefficient and wastes millions of tax dollars simply because it's illegal to compete with it (a nice fascist touch). We could look at welfare, which has created an epidemic of illegitimacy (which happens to be the single worst problem our society has, giving rise to a cornucopia of other problems). We could take a look at Social Security (broke), Medicaid (fraud-ridden and inefficient), or public transportation (an utter waste of money). But I think the simplest option would be the public school system.

I can think of nothing more inefficient than public schools. Last year the federal government spent almost $100 billion on education- which, I should also note, is interesting since the Constitution quite clearly states that education is in the purview of the states, and not the federal government. When you add how much the states and local governments spend, you get almost $900 billion (an estimate of the Census Bureau). What does almost $900 billion (and remember that's just per YEAR) in taxdollars by our children?

Stupidity! When you look at the standardized international test scores for all nations, American students actually do worse the longer they spend in public school. The tests are for fourth, eighth, and twelfth grade. Our fourth graders rank almost at the top in science, math, and reading comp- the science scores only beaten by South Koreans and the Japanese. Once in 8th grade, American scores drop dramatically, averaging in the 60th percentile in science. At twelfth grade, once our students have had the full benefits of public education, they're only beating Lithuania and South Africa in science comprehension, and few countries in math or reading either.

Consider that the courts in New York- where they are ranked 6th in the nation for spending more money per student- ruled that graduates of New York City schools were unfit to sit on a jury.

Simply put, public schools- well, they don't really do anything useful. Half of all people who work at public schools are not even teachers- they're part of the endless bureaucratic machine that always accompanies government institutions. At private schools, 80% of employees on average are teachers.

Also, thanks largely in part to the teacher's unions (who, remember, represent teachers, not children) the teachers that ARE teaching our children are incompetent- to say the least. You can find many hilarious stories about teachers failing tests meant for eighth graders, and needing the standards lowered in order to continue teaching. In Godless, Coulter relates a story in which a teacher fails repeatedly at a test with questions so simple it's mind-boggling. Eventually he paid a homeless man with a history of mental illness to take the test for him- and drew suspicion to himself because the homeless man did so well.

Now, this isn't to say all teachers are incompetent- I had many great teachers, after all- but I could also think of quite a few that I knew most of the class was smarter than. Also some who simply did not need to be around children (there are so many reports of sexual molestation by teachers it makes jokes about Catholic priests seem silly), or were lazy, or just completely incorrect. A degree in education is often considered to be one of the easiest to get- which I find relatively easy to believe inasmuch as teachers don't bother actually knowing anything they teach- unless what they're teaching is factually incorrect, in which case they'll be sure that they "know" it.

But the single most important defect in public schools, in my opinion, is the fact that they teach barely anything on how our government works, and then maybe for only a year. And there are almost no classes on economic theory in most public schools. They even routinely teach complete lies to students as a subtle indoctrination attempt- fascism is "right wing", that there's any doubt of the Rosenburgs' guilt, or of Sacco and Vanzetti's. Also that "McCarthyism" existed or that Gorbachev won the Cold War for us, or what Watergate really was, or global warming, or the more fun examples such as that teacher a few years back being taped as saying America was a terrorist nation. Then of course there are the endless lawsuits about schools' suppressing Christianity but forcing impressionable 12-year old students to pretend to be Islamic for the course of two weeks (dressing similarly, observing the Five Pillars of Muslim faith, and playing a "jihad board game"- yes, that actually happened in- where else- California at a tax-payer-funded school).

I can personally recall instances that revealed how great our public schools were. For example, everyone's heard the fun bit about Christmas being banned in schools, where saying the word "Christmas" is punishable by watching a Clooney movie. But I WAS forced by threat of grade reduction to color something that celebrated Kwanzaa- which is a holiday invented by an FBI stooge. Or where I was told that if I went near a biology teacher (I had asked him if he wanted to help sponsor a debate between intelligent design and evoluion one time) I'd have a restraining order put on me. Or the amazing moment in my AP US History class that I was the only one to know which two presidents had been impeached- none of my liberal classmates could remember that the second one was Clinton. I was...astounded to say the least. And they called me stupid.

I could probably rant on and on about how effective our public schools are, but by now I'm sure I've gotten across my point. Privatizing schools or even school vouchers are certainly helpful solutions to schools that churn out illiterates who should not be allowed near a voting booth. So would the ability to fire bad teachers. So would having teachers who knew something of history- really, the issue is that they have no competition, so nothing bothering improves. The liberal solution- throwing money at it- certainly does not work, D.C. spend the most per student and has the worst schools (primarily since a lot of that money goes to bureaucrats- vice principals in New York city make over $100 thousand a year- a superintendent $300,000). For managing schools that probably do more harm than good.

Just remember how much the government is ruining our children and wasting your money on something that everyone takes for granted now when you think about nationalizing health care- and they've had over a century to work on this.


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