"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

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Quiz for the Day..."Can Monopolies be Tweaked into Self-Perpetuating Excellence"?

We have been blogging about "Waiting for Superman", the most talked about documentary yet to be seen by the majority of Americans. From what we glean from the trailers, MSNBC, Fox News, and other media outlets, it is a compelling movie following inner city students in their educational struggles and dreams.

It will be appearing in St. Louis within the next few days. We do know quite a bit about it from the media frenzy...it bashes teachers' unions and extols the virtues of charter schools.

Let's look beyond the hype and ask some fundamental questions. Who or what organizations are behind the charter schools? Cato has an article about the money and push behind the charter school phenomenon. Bill Gates and other billionaires want to see charters replace traditional public schools. But what no television anchor or Oprah will ask....aren't charter schools still public schools operating under the same mandates as public schools? The answer to that is "yes". So much for the argument that charter schools can be "transformational" and on the "cutting edge".

If you accept the premise, then, that charter schools cannot truly be innovative because of the restrictions placed upon them, then the next argument moves to "we need more money to improve education". Here is CATO's contention that the vast amount of money thrown at this problem won't improve US education scores:

"And that brings us to the hurdle facing Gates, Buffett and their well-intentioned friends: Improving education is among their top goals, but our schools have swallowed many trillions of additional dollars in recent decades without improvement. So even if they donate every penny to this cause, it might not do the slightest bit of good. Unless, that is, they recognize that the system itself is the problem — that monopolies cannot be tweaked into self-perpetuating excellence".

If charter schools operate under public school mandates, then they are also part of the problem: a monopoly. Andrew Coulson was correct when he stated our schools have swallowed many trillions of additional dollars in recent decades without improvement. This recent CATO article illustrates the massive amount of spending with no improvement and decrease in some test scores and a disproportionate increase in enrollment in terms of spending. The charts are quite telling on the fallacy of believing "more money means better education".

The Federal government rolled the dice in this monopoly game 40 years ago, and is attempting to do it again in the new plans of Race to the Top, Vision for Missouri Public Education and the push for more charter schools. The vast amount of funding has not increased student achievement, although it has apparently helped to create teaching and support staff positions.

Who do you think this new Gates/Buffet plan will help? Do you really believe this is to help students? How will it help when charters have to operate under public school mandates? The government is controlling education. It's a tighter monopoly than it has been in the past. When did monopolies help the taxpayers...or your children?

It's time to stop playing the monopoly game. Look at the image above...we've given the Federal government a "chance" card for 40 years. We need to cash in that card. It's time to "boot" the Department of Education out of the states' constitutional rights to educate their children. It's time to free our children from the prison of mandates far removed from local input. Give parents, students and taxpayers REAL school choice. Give parents tax credits so THEY can make school choices for THEIR children.

1 comment:

  1. Bill Ayers brother, Rick Ayers, wrote an article in the Washington Post: "What ‘Superman’ got wrong, point by point", which is interesting... and by interesting, I mean in the sort of way that it's interesting to see how criminals go about their 'work'.

    "If we understand education as a civil right, even a human right as defined by the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, we know it can’t be distributed by a lottery."

    A wiz at equivocation and half-truths, for him it's all about money, centralized control, and 'Rights' as entitlements which government must give to all.

    Just as wrong as the Gates/Buffet angle and all the rest.

    A little less concern about how to deliver education, and a little more concern about what an Education is, might be something better for them to focus on. But then of course they'd discover that all their new technologies & boatloads of cash don't mean squat, and that parental choice and control are the real Rights involved.


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