"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

Search This Blog

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Parents are "Inconsequential Conduits" that Channel Money away from Public Schools

My intense interest in the deficiencies of public education began when my son was placed in a special education program for hearing impaired children. He began attending school when he was 3 years old and we filed due process when he was just turning 6 years old. It became apparent he preferred to talk rather than sign, and this choice was not welcomed by the district. This went against its "preferred educational method". Even though we paid the taxes for the district and the district was servicing our child, it was inconsequential what our preferred educational method would be for our child.

The IEP (Individualized Educational Program) we had for our son was in reality just a "fill in the blank" for hearing impaired students. It didn't matter what the individual needs of a child were; if those needs didn't fit into the system offered, the system could not accommodate that child's needs. We requested the district pay for private school tuition as there was no program in the district that could teach him to talk. No district teacher had specific training in oral education to teach our son that skill.

During our administrative law hearing, the teachers testified that if he made some progress during the year, the district had provided some educational benefit. According to IDEA, they were legally correct. When pressed by our attorney, these teachers stated if he learned his ABCs in one year, they would be satisfied, and had met the district's obligation to our son. The level of low expectations the district had for our child was absolutely stunning.

Our son was 6 years old and hearing impaired. He has no learning disabilities such as processing issues. His ability to learn was certainly higher than taking one year to learn the alphabet. I used to think this low expectation was because he was deaf. Apparently not:


Read the comments from the Institute for Justice after you watch the video. This particular paragraph regarding school choice caught my attention: "The powerful teacher unions and their allies had filed suit against the program (school choice). At one point they argued that parents are "inconsequential conduits" channeling money away from public schools".

The Institute of Justice took this lawsuit to the Supreme Court...and won. She was lucky. We lost our case on appeal. But in other ways, we won. I'll explain that in just a bit.

I have a few thoughts I would like to share with you.
  • This nanny state educational attitude has been pervasive for many, many years in public education. Perhaps this began in earnest when the Federal Department of Education was created in 1970 and local control became diluted to the point where it is now practically nonexistent.
  • We still are considered "inconsequential conduits"...just read the proposal by the Federal government for RTTT and the MO proposal for funding. Parents truly are considered for two reasons only: to provide the children and the taxes to perpetuate the system. From testimony I listened to in our lawsuit, I learned a valuable lesson: school systems do not exist to protect children; the system exists to protect the system.
  • Unions protect the teachers. The unions do not have the interest of the children in mind. That was apparent in our lawsuit and the one highlighted by biggovernment.

I hope the young girl from 10 years ago is doing well in school. I mentioned previously that we won, even though we lost our case. When we realized what low expectations these teachers had for our son, we were able to move from that district with no qualms. We never looked back. We didn't know what was ahead of us, but we sure knew what we were leaving behind...a system that did not allow children to succeed to their highest potential.

We moved to a city with oral deaf schools, and our son received intensive private instruction for 5 years. He then mainstreamed...and is now completing his second year of college. He considers spoken language his primary language. Financially and emotionally it was difficult, but in the long run, it was the best move for our son and our family.

My story and this young girl's story is not unusual or unique. Biggovernment has the title correct in its article: Public School FAIL. I am just heartsick for those children who cannot escape failing systems...or those who have their vouchers pulled from them, such as the students in Washington, DC.

To be stuck in systems that believe learning your ABCs in one year is adequate progress is the epitome of failure and disgrace. Parents MUST have a choice to escape systems that are failing their children. Parents MUST have that choice because the public education system and teacher unions really do believe parents are "inconsequential conduits".

This girl's father and I know it. We've lived through it.

(ht to a watchdog for the biggovernment link)


  1. It is gut wrenchingly infuriating, isn't it? I'm sure you know most of the quotes we could pull from Dewey & Co. explicitly stating that the purpose of public schools is to remove and erase the influence parents have on what their kids learn.

    You can go nuts pointing them out, rallying people to fight this & that... and it just rolls on. We do need to fight them, RTTT's got to be stopped... but it won't be enough, I don't think the system can be reformed, only stalled here and there - it'll have to be scrapped.

    While your case made it more obvious than most, it is far more the norm than the exception. I still think the best book on the subject is Richard Mitchell's "The Graves of Academe"(available in full online). He was a Lit Professor who was famous in the 1970's & early '80's for his "Underground Grammarian" newsletter which he started in order to skewer and shame administrators and teachers into paying more attention to their typo's and bad grammar in his college's memos, and grew to skewering the entire educational system.

    But in the Graves of Academe doesn't do that, or concentrate on the usual horror stories, though it has more than a few; instead it shows the thinking in, and behind, the 'educational' system. In this snippet from the forward, he notes how he began just writing an expanded version of his newsletter, and then realized that that was too beside the point as realized what it was he was really dealing with,

    "...As a result, I abandoned the collection and undertook the task of describing, by extrapolation from one visible protuberance to another, and with a little probing, the great invisible hulk of the beast, the brooding monstrosity of American educationism, the immense, mindless brute that by now troubles the waters of all, all that is done in our land in the supposed cause of "education," since when, as you see, I can rarely bring myself to write that word without quotation marks, or even fashion a sentence less than nine or ten lines long, lest I inadvertently fail to suggest the creature's awesome dimensions and seemingly endless tentacular complexities. I will try to do better. The somber subject requires clarity...."

    He's wickedly witty and laugh out loud funny, but more than that he succeeds in conveying the horror of what we've gotten ourselves in with.

  2. Just another reason why we need to push lawmakers to dismantle the Department of Education!


Keep it clean and constructive. We reserve the right to delete comments that are profane, off topic, or spam.

Site Meter