This has been an issue for so long in Texas, it’s reached epic proportions. If it wasn’t so damned expensive, it might even be funny. I hear today that someone (who’s betting against it being the TEA funding this? Anyone?) ran a poll and discovered that a majority of people would be willing to spend more in taxes if it went to schools.
As if for the children hasn’t been the mantra that they’ve asked us to shed blood for time and again in the past. Once again, my name is firmly in the ‘nay’ category. Not just no, but, Hell No.
The government schools are twice as expensive to run as comparable private schools. Giving them more money will not improve the schools, because the increasing number of dollars that we’ve given them (that’s doubled and tripled over time) has not made the government schools function any better.
There is no way to earmark funds for a specific purpose, as should be painfully clear to anyone who remembers that the lottery money, the cigarette settlement money, virtually every new tax scheme proposed in the last 20 years has been “earmarked for education”, only to get dumped into the general fund.
School attendance is mandatory. This makes the government schools into something closer to prisons than they are to places where children learn. The curriculum is set at the state and/or federal level. This turns the schools into an ‘indoctrination center’, where the correct view of this or that event or behavior is sure to be the only one given. The buildings themselves are old and run down from years of neglect by administrators more interested in buying themselves nice lives than they are in seeing facilities modernized, or made less ‘oppressive’.
This leaves the teachers holding the bag, the thankless prison guard who isn’t even trusted with a gun to defend himself with, and is locked in with the inmates on a daily basis. No wonder they want more money.
Here’s a solution you won’t get from the powers that be. Remove the taxing authority from all the school districts. Fire every school district employee who isn’t actively teaching a class. Draft legislation creating vouchers equal to the current outlay per student, payable to each teacher that will be entrusted with the job to teach our children. Give them the authority to hire and fire administration that they choose to employ at their discretion, and out of their pockets.
Give parents the choice to either accept the vouchers, and have their children be tested at the end of the education process; or to do without the vouchers and the testing.
…And then see if the children end up learning more, or less. I’m betting on more.
Having now put two children through school I can honestly say that the public schools do exceptionally well for what they have been tasked with doing. They do a far better job of educating all the children than most of the charter schools do with educating the children of parents interested enough in their children’s learning to take the time to put them in the charter instead of just sending them to the public school.
That is the big difference. If you have the time and the money you can find a school that produces a better education for less money. But the playing field is not level. Public schools have to educate all of the children, even the ones that don’t have parents that care and the ones that have learning disabilities. Charter schools fail in those categories because those are the groups that are hardest to educate and charters aren’t given enough money to educate those kinds of children. So they don’t try, and they aren’t required to do it anyway.
The problem with school remains the straightjacket that they have been confined to for too long. We would do much better if we made schooling something that can be done anywhere and any time. If we understood that children want to learn, they don’t have to be forced to learn.