Every presidential contender for the 2000 election has adopted the
generic issue of “improving education” as a cornerstone of his or her
administration. But few of them have had the guts to say the obvious –
that simply spending more money, be it federal or state money,
cannot and will not solve America’s education crisis.
That’s because few of them have had the guts to admit that the federal
government cannot and will not improve education as long
as Washington maintains control over local public schools. There is too
much bureaucracy, too much waste and mismanagement, and way too much
politics surrounding the issue of education (mostly
leftist politics at that).
The formula originating from the left is simple: Ignorant people can
be controlled; educated people, on the other hand, cannot be controlled
because they can see through the lies and refuse to be manipulated.
However, under the guise of giving in to the leftist
politico-education agenda, presidential politics continue to revolve
around known failures espoused by the left — chiefly, that more money
equals better education. It doesn’t; it never has.
Let the facts speak for themselves:
- In the past few decades per student spending has risen to a
figure between $4,000 and $6,000 per annum in most states, with
no appreciable rise in performance. In fact, in all
of the basic categories of learning — reading, language
arts/composition, mathematics, and science — American kids are behind
those in most other industrialized nations, and the disparity between
them is getting worse, not better.
- Local taxes Americans must pay for “education” is nearly always
the highest while most parochial and private schools — with
better attendance, performance and safety statistics — continue to
struggle just to survive. But public schools just get more dangerous,
less effective, and less responsive to parental guidance.
- A handful of leftists have successfully captured this country’s
most influential educational policy institutions and continue to work to
subvert high educational standards in lieu of a dumbed-down, socialist
“feel good” approach that doesn’t include parents.
And it’s failing miserably because leftists aren’t interested in
educational excellence — they’re using the public school system to
forward a socialist political agenda, nothing more.
- Good teachers, responsible parents and traditional education
administrators are being fed mandates from Capitol Hill that put more
emphasis on having cops, metal detectors and drug-sniffing dogs in
school rather than allowing measures that promote good discipline, order
in the classroom and real punishment or expulsion for the worst
- Repetitive studies have shown a distinct relationship between an
appreciable rise in violence and a comparable decrease in reading and
communication skills, yet leftist policy wonks and congressional and
presidential candidates continue to scratch their heads trying to figure
out “why there is so much violence in our schools.”
In virtually all of these examples, “mainstream” presidential
candidates and federal (and state) congressional office seekers on the
right and left only advocate more of the same –
one-size-fits-all federal education “standards” and mandates that have
proven too expensive and ineffective to take seriously anymore. It’s
almost as if latter 20th century American political candidates are on
autopilot when it comes to espousing their ideas on education.
But the “old standards,” held in such contempt by today’s leftist
politico-education elite, are exactly what used to work — and work well
– in this country. Classes that teach phonics rather than “whole word
recognition,” instruction in the fine literary classics instead of
videos about condom use and pornography, and classes that require
students to practice the written word and learn higher math and science
skills are now in short supply — and it shows. Under the leftist
agenda, kids are taught to be haughty, self-centered, self-appreciative,
and stupid because it’s easier, less of a challenge, and more
palatable to a kid to slither through school on easy street. And it
makes these slouches appreciate those who gave them the free ride to
begin with — the leftists who require nothing from them but a
What the leftists don’t tell these kids — and what few presidential
candidates seem to mention — is that the “easy street” educational
agenda, which gives them computers without teaching them how to
effectively communicate, is a sure path to a ruinous, non-productive,
subservient life as an adult.
As a practitioner of the written word, naturally my preferences in
improving education lie in more hands-on instruction of
communication skills. Children need to understand that if they cannot
read, write and comprehend the written word, nothing else will come easy
to them — not math, not science, not sports, not work.
All of these issues are what is really important to “ordinary”
Americans, yet the current crop of leaders and would-be leaders don’t
see it. Instead, they think — arrogantly — that their money
(which is really our money) will solve all of these problems, if
they just get us to let them spend a little more on “education.” It’s a
Education is not about bigger and better computers, enlarging
administrative staff, simply building new classrooms, or your child’s
ability “to feel good about himself or herself.” It’s not about
teaching kids how to have safer sex outside of wedlock, or about
allowing a child to express himself in any manner he chooses because “he
has that right.” It’s not about lip-synching popular big money
“pro-education” initiatives while permitting juvenile delinquents and
gang members to terrorize schools, turn them into drug centers, and
disrupt the often good efforts of real educators and their pupils.
And it’s not about the federal government — 535 members of Congress,
plus a handful of executive branch and bureaucratic personnel — telling
a couple hundred million Americans what their idea of better
education is (more money). What works in Butte, Mt., may not work in
New York City or Sacramento, Calif., or Russellville, Mo.
Leaders should abandon the mantra that better education is achieved
only when more money is spent on it. It is laughable at this stage to
even consider such a stupid and simplistic concept.
Emphasis should be placed on educational standards set at the local
level by involved teachers, parents and school administrators. It
should be about teaching our kids how to perform basic reading,
language, writing and arithmetic skills before they can be introduced to
the advanced aspects of these subjects.
In short, American education should be about teaching skills
– not “showing” kids skills or “entertaining” them with irrelevant
pap. It should be about their learning what they need to know to
become functional adults because the very future of an industrialized
nation depends on such bedrock principles of a good education.
Would-be presidents ought to endorse educational standards that our
ancestors were taught — which, by the way, are what made the United
States the great power she is today. It’s not about stumping for more
money to — do whatever. And it’s not about “using the power and
influence of the federal government” to force a leftist political
agenda on generations of kids who will not be equipped to support,
defend and protect this nation in the future against better educated and
motivated enemies of this State. To do any less is to cheat the very
students these leftists purport to be helping.
If the issue were education, I’d personally like to hear the
presidential candidates talk more about how they’re going to extract the
federal government from this failed experiment of dumbing down our kids,
not about new and creative ways to use failed “federal education
programs and initiatives.” They just don’t work — that’s obvious.