The State of Education in America Today
What We Hear
We have all heard the rhetoric, each president comes to the office with phrases like, “Schooling is not only a right, it is a civil rights issue that our inner cities are failing. I will fix it!” or “I will increase our school budgets by $18 billion for early childhood classes, teacher recruitment, performance pay and other initiatives!” We heard this same thing from Trump during his election, he came into office and put in as Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Obama had John King Jr. and Arne Duncan, Bush had Margaret Spellings and Rod Paige, each brought their own qualifications, billions more was pumped into our schools, yet our schools are crumbling, scholastic scores are falling, what is wrong? Are we not putting enough money into our schools, are we lacking in qualified teachers?
Are we lacking in investments or infrastructure?
The US invests the third most per student, but take away college which many nations pay for, the US jumps to number two in spending. Despite all this money spent, we rank 24th in scholastic testing scores for science and reading, 39th in math internationally, why is this? As a parent I find this deeply troubling, and if we are spending the third most, where is all the money going?
We know that salaries and infrastructure cost money, in the 1940’s and 50’s with the baby boom in full swing, the US went on a massive spending spree building large schools across the US, they were equipped with the most modern infrastructure found in the world, we made sure our children had what they needed to succeed. We were leading the world in education, our scores were second to none. So why are there so many problems now, why are we failing so miserably when we are pumping all this money into this institution?
The Infrusture Problem
One of the problems has been caused by the states, each one has a different formula for dealing with schools being built, maintained or expanded. If schools go over a budget, they end up with a messy argument in city hall, then facing voters at the ballot box. I have been to a couple of these, usually get into a huge fight. I find it amazing the parents that fought the hardest for budget increases for the schools when their kids were in schools, these same people now lead the fight to try to restrict money, thus depriving our children of the needed infrastructure in their education. Goodness knows they don’t want to pay another $20 a year on their property taxes. When a need for computer labs, fiber optic wiring, tablets for kids are needed, the parents are screaming their kids did not have it, why do the kids need it now. Sadly, it seems they seem to feel that now that their kids are out, who cares about the future, they sure don’t want to contribute. I wonder how they felt if the older generation had done this to their kids? Seems that generation understood the need for the future, these are only concerned about here and now.
Now and the Future
This brings up the problem with the aging schools we have today. Like it or not, like anything in life, if you don’t maintain something they start to crumble, the schools are the same. As they age this problem starts to compound, air conditioners that were state of the art in 1950, today they are inefficient beasts that are breaking down often. Electrical networks designed to handle lights, maybe a projector and a few other items are now overtaxed with servers, multiple computers in each room, projectors, interactive whiteboards, robotic labs, tablet charging ports, soon a system made to handle more basic needs finds itself seriously stressed. The schools are lacking for funds, so they forgo maintenance to invest in class needs, problems start to compound as one thing builds on top of the other.
So what can be done? It would be far better to rewire everything, or better yet, tear down, rebuild a school that will not only handle the load we have today, but the expansion that will surely come as smart gadgets grow, 3D projectors become commonplace, interactive walls and tables, along with other such devices are used to keep our kids up to date in the use and operation of the most modern technology, thus giving them a competitive against the rest of the world. What we have in place now are unable to handle this, other than the most modern built schools.
Sadly once more we come back to taxes; are the people today who scream about everything because they may be forced to have one less round of golf a month going to go for this, sadly it sure does not seem this way, people wonder why the generation today is so selfish, look at their parents. A solution is needed if the people don’t have the stomach to do this, maybe we need to change the laws to create the means to do this.
Another problem you have is the teacher’s union. People for some reason think the Teachers Union are interested in our kid’s welfare, they could not be further from the truth. Look to the failing schools in the inner city, the fight by the unions and millions paid to lobbyist to prevent kids from migrating out of failing schools, you see the true intent of the unions, they would rather see the kids stuck in a failing system where they retain power then give them the best education possible where there is no union control.
Schools don’t reward teachers that are innovative and creative in the class, the ones that cause a fire in their kids, makes learning fun, encourages them to reach for heights they have never dreamed of, no they reward longevity over creativity every time. Advancements are based on seniority, layoffs are always based on this first, our kid’s needs have little or no bearing on what the unions work for, they work for maintaining power, keeping mediocre teachers in place, creativity may be noticed, but it sure is not protected. This is all a direct result of collective bargaining from the unions, they have held the school’s hostage for years.
The union has for years also has fought to prevent the year ending academic testing scores of the children from being taken into consideration when grading a teacher’s job, this is the best reflection of how a teacher is teaching, yet the unions fight to keep this out. This had become such a problem that many saw it, the issue was they were for the part powerless to do anything about it, the left would never allow the union to be touched in any way, they were their largest supporter.
We saw this fight explode when Governor Walker in Wisconsin decided enough was enough with collective bargaining and union control standing in the way of a balanced budget, having his hands tied when trying to fix corruption or ineptness within government organizations. Something had to be done or Wisconsin would quickly go from a healthy economy with an unsecured debt load that sat in good standing. Thankfully he and the GOP members of Wisconsin was not going to allow the state to turn into a Detroit or California, where years of mishandling, unsustainable collective bargaining demands had brought the city to its knees, and the state which has put off honoring agreements it simply can’t fulfill are now watching city after city go bankrupt.
The reaction by the Governor and the Legislative houses, which were both controlled by the GOP put in place Act 10, this basically forced the governments in the state, be they the state, city or county to have to put 50% of the money in retirement funds to cover unsecured debts, thus keeping this in a more healthy stance, stopping agreements that put off to the future what they could not pay today, they also forced union members to pay their fair share of these funds, needless to say, this was not acceptable to them. This was not the way thing had ever been done, the ire of the left was rapidly growing.
They then moved on and stripped much of the collective bargaining power from the Unions, no longer were they going to be able to hold a city, county or the state hostage to their demands, the reaction to this was swift, loud and unprecedented. Hundreds of thousands of union workers from not only the state but from all over the nation descended on Madison, tried to prevent legislators from working, they aided in smuggling out Democratic legislators so the measures could not come to a vote, with a supermajority the GOP just passed bills stripping the right of them to stop legislation this way.
Then the cries, the mass demand by the left of a new election, they demanded that there be a recall, collected the 500,000 votes in record time to put in motion a recall. They had volunteers from all over the states going door to door, manning phones, they knew if they lost this battle then other GOP controlled states would take notice. The loss of control of the unions was too much, soon all were having volunteers going to Wisconsin to aid in throwing Walker and the GOP out. Obama even weighed in on this, not that it mattered, the citizens of Wisconsin had voted once, how dare influences outside the state try to undo their vote, so they responded by revoting to keep Walker in power with even a greater margin of victory than the year before.
The left was losing the battle, they just did not know that in 5 years things would even go further to the right with the election of Trump. Looking back, by the reaction of the left to Walker we should not be surprised by the reaction to Trump, the only difference is while Wisconsin has liberal bastions, Madison, the Milwaukee area, the rest of the state leans far more to the right, thus we are a purple state, with Trump he motivated the left on the coast states, we saw the reaction after he won the vote.
So what do we do in the future?
The most important thing is whom we have in office. We are faced with an election next November that will be a harbinger of what will be in 2020. On one side you have the left who acted like they did with Walker, they marched in the streets, screamed for impeachment, you now have billionaires thinking if they take out adds and collect signators that Trump could be impeached, shows how little they know of the law.
Much of the left is motivated now, the radical left, or the far left as I think they should more correctly be called, they are every bit as racist and violent as the few members of the far right they scream about, I would think though that they have larger numbers. We need to motivate the right, and not just to keep in legislators from the GOP, we need to clean the swamp of swamp creatures in the GOP like McCain, Flake, and others. The ones that are leaving, let them go, the ones that want to stay and obstruct, we need to throw them out like we would any other trash.
We need to take a look at the voting records in state, if these people held state, county or city jobs, see if they will go along with the current president’s agenda, then vote these people in, even if it means upsetting and throwing out during the primaries much of the GOP candidates running for reelection. At this point I would rather see the Democrats win and have nothing done, then the GOP to control both houses and do nothing, at least one can understand why the Democrats would do nothing, there is no excuse for the obstructionist like McCain, we need to put them on notice their time is done.
After this we should do the same in the states, in states that are purple, we need to go out and make sure the GOP takes control of not only the state house but the legislation as well. They need to in turn do exactly what Wisconsin did, start stripping the collective bargaining power the unions have. Now you think Wisconsin reacted badly, wait until you try this with the federal government, the blowback will be of epic proportions. Because something is hard, it may cause discomfort is not a reason to not do something, we need to act exactly because of this, we need to take back our nation from special interests.
And this brings us to the schools. If the states start seeing the federal government, and Wisconsin succeed in taking on the unions and not only survive but thrive, the states will know they can take this on and survive as well. If they do so they can then cap off the stranglehold this special interest group has on them, can restrict it to protecting its members, but not be in a power to make demands that are simply not able to be maintained. I would also love to see an advocacy group of parents is able to have a part in each and every negotiation, to give power to the parents that match the power the unions have, thus the needs of the kids will be on an equal footing when funding and direction being debated.
And this is just a start, I would love to see incentives handed to all to donate to schools, aid in their ability to handle budgets, to make up for shortfalls, thus encouraging the growth of our education. While this is commonplace in colleges, it is not so much in elementary or later years of school, and finally give the teachers that actually teach, the ability to rise up in the ranks, the pay to keep them and the ability to draw more around them. In this we need to raise all schools to a status of allowing up to 50% of wages to be donated and written off as taxes, then maybe add in another tax bonus to make this very beneficial, you would drive up donations, primary and secondary schools would soon be much more fashionable to give to, their funds would be able to expand making up for shortfalls.