Issue 12 Public Education

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Education is the key to allowing our society and way of life to flourish. It is the key that unlocks the shackles of poverty, violence, and hopelessness that plague our most vulnerable citizens.  However, despite our enormous national wealth, we have allowed ourselves to fall behind the rest of the world when it comes to educating our children.

This is another area where we need to look long and hard at ourselves.  Our education system must be reformed.  It must be based on a culture that prepares our students for a life of service, success, and leadership regardless of what path in life they choose.

We should provide a renewed focus on foundational skills like math and reading.  We should immediately begin incorporating money management, technical competence, and entrepreneurship.  The goal of every student need not exclusively be a four-year degree.  For our nation to rebuild its security and wealth, we need to return honor and prestige to the skilled trades that make that possible. Thought leaders on this topic like Mike Rowe have had it right for years.  We need to listen.

As for our teachers, they should be treated as national treasures, not society’s after thoughts.  Their profession is among the most noble in the world. Instead of being treated as national treasures, they are often grossly underpaid and under resourced.  Their union places the blame on politicians and government bureaucrats, but I believe they are misleading us.

Teachers, I am now talking directly to you…

It is time to acknowledge the elephant in the room…  Tenure in the k-12 system must come to an end.  This is the first and most important step on the path back to global, academic excellence.

“What is tenure,” most of us are likely asking.  Tenure means that a teacher has a job for life, regardless of their performance, level of effort, or ability.  They can’t be fired, ever.

Teachers unions have hijacked common sense from the education system in exchange for continued political power and influence.  Through their policies, we have guaranteed all educators a job for life, regardless of their competence, ability, or willingness to perform even the most basic duties of their jobs.

By ending this counterproductive tradition, the education system will be allowed to purge its dead weight.  Administrators and government officials will no longer fear increasing wages, because they need no longer fear that those increased wages will flow to a lifetime of payments to the incompetent, the unwilling, or the incapable.

Higher wages will incentivize our most brilliant college students to pursue the noble profession of teaching with the confidence that they will be able to provide for themselves and their families.  The resultant improvement in the quality of public education will be immediate and obvious.

Incompetence and complacency must not be allowed in the system.  Not from educators or administrators.  It is not in our national best interest.

Once tenure has been addressed, we can begin the real work of resolving the broken, inequitable, antiquated systems currently used to determine each public school’s funding.

No one can deny that a child’s zip code is one of the biggest determinants of success in their life.  The wealthier the zip code, the more successful the student.  The converse is also true, and no American should feel good about that fact.

Decreasing funding to our most impoverished districts is not only counterproductive from an educational perspective, but a societal one as well.  Nothing would be more in our collective best interests than to help raise more and more citizens out of poverty.  With such an obvious reality facing us, why have lawmakers been unwilling or unable to make the necessary changes?

Again, tenure.

It will be very hard for conservative-minded lawmakers to amass more debt solely for the purpose of increasing funding to a broken system.  A broken system whose largest expenses are the unionized teachers, their health care, and their pensions without the ability to weed out the dead weight and replace it with people who can be held accountable to their performance.

Failing to address tenure while still increasing funding, wages, and benefits amounts to nothing more than another special interest “donation” for the purpose of receiving electoral support by the union and funded by the taxpayer.

Take away tenure, and our lawmakers can have a higher level of confidence that the funds can be used for the betterment of the children and society, as opposed to political favor.

We are at another crossroads.  We can choose to drift along, continuing with a status quo that perpetuates societal inequities, or we can adopt a model that puts the childrens’ best interests above our own and prepares them for adulthood, parenthood, and life as a citizen of our nation and planet.

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