On Education

by

We, in the United States, have uncovered the most successful education system in the history of the world.

Our method is superior to the Greeks and Romans. Our system is superior to the European and even Asian education systems. Our system is so effective and wonderful that countries consistently look to it to emulate it. In fact, it is now recognized as the only proper system of educating the masses.

Sadly, that system is not found in today’s public schools. If the government signs the check that pays for your education, you are not participating in that system of successful education.

It is, however, found in the highest levels of academic achievement in our country. The colleges and universities and academies of our country are the finest in the world. Only a handful of universities in a handful of foreign countries can compare.

That system is simply described thusly: Freedom.

We used to have freedom in our public schools. Back in the day, a community would pool their resources and build a school. A handful or members of the community were chosen to run that school and held accountable for its success. The school board would collect money from the people, either as tuition fees or as a general tax. That sacred money was spent carefully, hiring the top teachers from the top universities, teachers who could handle the unique demands of their community school.

Over time, several changes have corrupted this wonderful system.

The first corruption was public financing of the community schools. First the states, and then the federal government, began subsidizing these schools. No longer were the people in the community the people to go to to ask for more money. Today, schools across the country look to the state and federal government to provide the funds they need. Only occasionally do they turn to the community, and even then, they do it sparingly and with great hesitation.

The second corruption is the unionizing of the teacher class. It used to be that teachers, like engineers and business managers, would market and advertize themselves and their unique abilities. They would seek out the jobs they wanted in the communities they wanted to serve. And they would be held accountable for whatever success or failure they inspired.

Today, teachers are a statistic, a number, a forgotten component of a complex machine. Whatever accountability used to exist is long gone. Whatever recognition used to occur occurs much more rarely. Teachers are treated like dishrags and not individuals with unique goals or talents in our system, thanks to the unionization of their profession. The unions hurt the children, schools, and parents. But they hurt the teachers more.

The third and final corruption is the flurry of mandates coming from state and federal governments. This directs attention from the local schools and school board to the state and federal legislatures. School board members have become robots, administrators have become swamped in a morass of regulation, and both are forgotten.

There is a really simple way to fix all these things. All it takes is a simple change in heart on our part.

First, we must stop financing and regulating the community schools across our nation. This will put control of the schools back in the hands of the community. It makes no sense for people from Illinois to dictate to Federal Way how they should run their schools, and neither does it make sense for us to dictate to them how they should run theirs. Let’s stop it be ending public finance and regulation of the schools, making every public school a community enterprise.

In changing this dynamic, I think you will see a desire to have one school board for each school, rather than aggregating schools into districts. Districts exist because of the complexity of regulations and the difficulty in petitioning for funds. If that is no longer an issue, then a few members of the community will be enough to manage the school and ask the community for the needed funds.

Second, we must break the union. We must no longer treat all teachers the same or collectively bargain with all of them at the same time. Principles, or at least, the school board, should be given hiring and firing power, and the power to assign teachers to whatever post they are needed. Teachers should have the power to quit and be hired according to their desires, to work in the schools they want to work in and not in the ones they don’t. This is no different than how every business operates. Teachers deserve no less respect than the top engineers and business managers get in the real world.

These two changes alone will restore the greatness of the American system of independence and freedom. It will be enough to elevate our worst school above any other nation’s top academies.

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