California Runs Schools Like DMV
“Race to the Top” federal education funding California just “won” is more like “Race to Control.” Students won’t be helped. Instead, schools will just become more like the DMV.
The grant is just another way to continue expanding the monstrosity that has become of the California education bureaucracy.
“The state was one of nine winners named Friday in the Education Department’s Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grant program,” the Sacramento Bee reported this week. “But don’t count on the funds to relieve California of K-12 cuts. The state will receive $52.6 million, largely to build a new child-care rating system that measures learning environment, teachers and parent involvement, according to the California Department of Education.”
A new rating system is just what California’s failing schools need. It’ll be like offering a candy cane to calm a tantrum-throwing toddler.
The obvious goal of the U.S. Department of Education’s competition was to nab early control of younger children, to get them “prepared” for kindergarten. This effort goes back at least to the Nixon administration 40 years ago. When the Democratic-controlled Congress of 1972 passed funding for early childhood education, President Nixon vetoed it, saying, “[F]or the federal government to plunge headlong financially into supporting child development would commit the vast moral authority of the National Government to the side of communal approaches to child rearing and against the family-centered approach.”
In California, one 2006 ballot initiative already failed to do this. Proposition 82 attempted to fund state-run preschools, but voters did not support the measure.
Deaf to voters, but typical of government, instead government elites just do an end-run around the people.
An ‘A’ for Effort
Teachers will be handing out even more “A’s” for effort, instead of achievement.
The real goal behind the grant was to expand the public education system to include pre-kindergarten education. Any school expansion means more teachers, and more teachers means more union members.
Just as with the phony push to lower class size, the real goal was to create jobs for more teachers. The California education system expanded so quickly that student achievement dropped because so many unqualified teachers were hired.
Self-titled “education reformers” have always believed that people needed to be educated enough to be useful, but not too educated, which might result in individual, independent thinking.
While those in government education say that they only want to create “more access” and “equality” in public education, the result is an overall dumbing-down of the students. As the focus becomes providing more quantity, quality becomes secondary.
More Is Never Enough
There are two schools of thought on education: One is the free market approach, where parents are free to choose how and where to educate their children. The other approach believes education should be provided and operated by the government, from birth through graduate school.
If today’s Occupy Wall Street protests are any indicator, there are a couple of generations of kids who believe that they are entitled to a free, state-provided education.
With these same protesters, more is never enough. Free education, free rent, free car, free food, free health care — where does it stop?
While many agree with the protesters’ anger, their solutions are all wrong. They are demanding more daddy government, and more support. But more government is not the answer. Less government is the only solution in a free society, especially in education. Is it out of laziness, or convenience, or have people been brainwashed into believing that government schools are the best choice for education?
Education in America
Americans did not start out in the New World with government-run schools. For 70 years after America’s founding, most American communities had privately run schools and families home-schooled. They brought in tutors, or they created small community schools. And before the creation of government-run schools, American literacy was as high as 97 percent, depending on the region.
There are always those who think they know better than everyone else, as with most societies. This becomes a problem when these know-it-alls, who call themselves “reformers,” gain power and control, and force their rules and views on the rest of society.
Unfortunately, this happened in America with education reformers. A government system of education was created, and was mightily enforced by local governments. “Policies shifted toward redistribution over localities through imposing more tax burdens on the rich, who were minority in the elections,” explained a 2008 study from UC Davis, Department of Economics.
The biggest problem with government-run education is that the state gets to control what is taught to children.
I witnessed this as a parent when my son was in public high school. I was forced to challenge some of his teachers for four years, as they tried to teach socially rewritten history, instill pro-socialist and anti-family ideology, and punish him with lower grades for questioning them, and for daring to think differently and for himself.
The social engineering that crept into education only advanced the pro-government agenda. Students were the sacrificial lambs.
Now, far too many teachers are focused on the pay, benefits and employment contract, and not on the results in the classroom. They no longer speak about children as clients, and instead treat them as byproducts.
Only with competition will education thrive again in America. Competition provides choices.
Parents should be making the education choices among public and private schools, online and virtual education, charter schools and home schooling.
With schools run by the government, expecting reform for education is not realistic. It’s the ultimate socialistic operation. Run by local politicians, funded by mandatory taxes, government requires parents to send children to school.
And now governments are whittling away at any remaining choice for parents.
California is the home to the computer chip and Silicon Valley computer industry. Yet under California law, the state doesn’t even allow online education to use programs outside of one’s home county, or a contiguous county. What’s the purpose of Internet education if you are limited to taking classes in your county or one next door — classes you could easily drive to?
State-Imposed Education Restrictions
The California Education Code requires a 25-to-one student-teacher ratio for virtual charter schools. This requirement is strictly adhered to under online education guidelines, even though one teacher could be available to teach five or 10 times the usual number of students.
“This ratio was imposed even though a University of California study pointedly observed that, ‘no studies have been done to look into whether teachers can or should have more or fewer students online than teachers in physical classrooms.’ In other words, there’s no evidentiary basis for such a requirement,” said Lance Izumi, senior director of education studies at the Pacific Research Institute, CalWatchDog.com’s parent think tank.
And state rules bar teachers with out-of-state licenses from teaching online courses to California students, requiring that all teachers can only have California teaching credentials.
According to Izumi, author of Short Circuted: The Challenges Facing the Online Learning Revolution in California, the National Education Association, the parent organization of the California Teachers Association, says there should be “an absolute prohibition against the granting of charters for the purpose of home-schooling, including online charter schools that seek home-schooling over the Internet.” The California Federation of Teachers, in model contract language, says: “No employee shall be displaced because of distance learning or other educational technology.”
One clever reform choice is the plan Florida Gov. Rick Scott proposed, where parents would be allotted 85 percent of state per-pupil education funding to use in private schools, private tutoring or online virtual schooling.
Whether schools are for-profit, non-profit, government-run, private or classes at home, parents and students should be allowed to make the education decision best suited for individual learning. Sticking kids in a classroom with 25 to 30 other students may not be the best model. But with politicians and the government dominating the discussion, education is looking more like the DMV than an exciting place of learning.
Tags: California, CTA, Democrats, Education, Education Reform, government, jobs, Katy Grimes, legislature, online education, Public Employee Unions, Republicans, Sacramento, Taxes, teachers, unions, waste
June 19, 2013