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Author Topic: Excellent article on American Education  (Read 11847 times)

Sandy Price

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Excellent article on American Education
« on: March 11, 2004, 04:10:29 pm »

HOW TO FIX EDUCATION:
ABOLISH THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT

By: Murray Sabrin

Public education, or more accurately government education, is one of America's sacred cows. Even among most suburban conservative Republicans who send their children to private schools, public education is considered "untouchable". There is virtually no organized opposition to the double whammy an increasing number of families face--paying for their children's private school tuition and paying property and/or income taxes to support the public school establishment.
 


 
Instead of tinkering with the current public education structure, we should first get the federal government out of local education decision making, and that means abolishing the Department of Education. Unfortunately, President Bush has increased federal involvement in education, a major policy goal of both the Democrats and the National Education Association. Although they have criticized some of the president's education policies, they support unequivocally the federal government's role in paying for local school operations. And we all know, with federal dollars come federal mandates and oversight, and that's why the federal government should not be involved in education--public or private.

At the state and local levels, local school boards, local administrators, principals, and teachers should make education decisions, not state education commissions. This means abolishing state education departments, eliminating another useless bureaucracy, and saving the taxpayers more money.

At the local level, the consumers of public education should pay for the operation of their local schools. This could be in the form of tuition, user fees or other methods--grants, contributions, etc. And of course, these expenses should be tax deductible from federal taxes, just as property taxes are deductible now. In other words, the tax burden on senior citizens, childless couples and single homeowners would be reduced. Finally, the consumers of education would foot the education bill, just as families pay out-of-pocket for municipal pools and recreation facilities.

Americans are used to paying user fees. We have state toll roads. Americans pay out-of-pocket for postal services. No one is suggesting we have a "free" postal office, funded by taxpayers.

The major opposition to education user fees is the age-old question, "What about the poor"? Education is "different". Education is supposed to be the social glue that binds the citizenry in the glorious democracy experiment. Therefore, government funded education brings together children of low income, middle income and upper income families to share a pluralistic learning experience. The historical record challenges the romantic notion that education is primarily about learning. Public education is about controlling youngsters and molding them to become obedient citizens serving the state.

Given the cost of urban education and the dismal performance of students, you would think policymakers would demand a change in the way education is structured in America. For example, in Camden, New Jersey, only 10% of public school students graduate from high school. In other words, the Camden public school system has a 90% failure rate, and yet the New Jersey Supreme Court has mandated that state aid be increased for urban schools so these districts can spend at least or more than the per capita expenditures of the wealthiest suburban districts. In short, suburban taxpayers are paying for their children's education as well as the education of urban families' children. This is unfair.

The failure of urban public education confirms Peter Drucker's observation that "nonprofits spend far less for results than governments spend for failures". The solution for urban education can be summed up as follows: turn over the schools to the teachers, administrators and parents, so they can become independent nonprofits. This would force urban schools to address educational issues without government bureaucrats looking over their shoulder. And if they continue to perform poorly under teacher-administrator-parent governance, parents could then turn to homeschooling, organized around community cooperatives.

The transition to a student-family oriented schooling experience will take several years. If we don't start soon, another generation of urban youngsters will fail to learn the basic skills to become fully integrated into the American mainstream. And taxpayers will be forced to continue to pay for another failed government program.  

 

"Published originally at EtherZone.com : republication allowed with this notice and hyperlink intact."

Mail this article to a friend(s) in two clicks!
 


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 

Murray Sabrin is a professor of finance at Ramapo
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dowcet

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Re: Excellent article on American Education
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2005, 11:34:15 am »

Americans are used to paying user fees. We have state toll roads. Americans pay out-of-pocket for postal services. No one is suggesting we have a "free" postal office, funded by taxpayers.

The major opposition to education user fees is the age-old question, "What about the poor"? Education is "different". Education is supposed to be the social glue that binds the citizenry in the glorious democracy experiment. Therefore, government funded education brings together children of low income, middle income and upper income families to share a pluralistic learning experience. The historical record challenges the romantic notion that education is primarily about learning. Public education is about controlling youngsters and molding them to become obedient citizens serving the state.

Interesting article. I agree with most of it, if not all, but would like to see some discussion.

I'm on the fence about the idea that a society could function just fine if all the basic infrastructure was provided by private enterprise. The first paragraph I quoted glosses over the whole fact that in general, progressive taxation subsidizes services like state roads and postal service to make pay-per-use fees affordable. I think that falsely suggests that we already know with certainty that this kind of system already works well for other forms of basic infrastructure, in the real world. If New Hampshire becomes such an experiment I will watch with interest.  I'm a newby here, so point me to other threads if the issue of real world user fee funded infrastructure has already been discussed.

I'm more concerned about the second paragraph. I agree that centralized control of education is ultimately about authoritarian doctrination. It is equally true though that education has a huge impact on one's access to life, liberty and property. What I'm concerned about is that if poorer people only have access to poor education, the gap between rich and poor could grow exponentially over generations.

I could see things moving in two possible directions, one profoundly beautiful, the other disastrous.
IF wealthier communities agree that their schools should provide need-based scholarships, consider some kind of sliding-scale tuition, do whatever else it takes to make sure that they don't close their doors to worthy students of modest means or other communities on any significant scale without coercion THEN the kind of system described in the above article would have my full support.

Given the realities of classism, racism, and economic inequality, I'm afraid that centralized re-distribution of funds (in a fixed form, not the mess we have today) might be a necessary evil. What I'm putting up for discussion in this thread is the question of to what extent there are natural forces that would prevent free market education as described in the article from simply becoming a road to extreme inequality. If you want to try and convince me that authority should never be used to limit economic inequality in any way, I'd be interested to have that discussion but it should probably be moved to a different thread.
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5thconcerto

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Re: Excellent article on American Education
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2005, 11:48:27 am »

Just a few thoughts:

Let the free marklet work.

Yes the poor will be provided for through voluntary associations providing scholarships.

Schools do a poor job of educating, if the school is larger than a one room schoolhouse.

Education does not require schools.

Study the past, particularly the American colonial period, to find the answers to education.

Education cannot be forced upon an unwilling student.

Think outside the box.

There will always be some people who will not be educated. High school graduates who can't read? Hmmmm...
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Sandy Price

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Re: Excellent article on American Education
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2005, 01:30:06 pm »

If you are talking about equality as far as academic standards are concerned, I will debate the need but if you are talking about a redistribution of wealth, this has nothing to do with education standards.

I lived in two very high-end neighborhoods where the schools were terrible and ended up locating a small private school that had all the right moves as far as academic curriculum.

In Arizona we are having good reading scores by opening over a hundred charter schools throughout the state.  It takes parental involvement to keep the scores high and it is working.

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5thconcerto

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Re: Excellent article on American Education
« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2005, 02:05:03 pm »

I encourage everyone to read John Taylor Gatto's book "The Underground History of American Education". It is available to read online at his website:
http://www.johntaylorgatto.com
Here was a teacher who was recognized New York State Teacher of the Year, who came to an inescapable fact, public education CANNOT be fixed. Withdraw your children from public schools immediately.
Belive me, it is an incredible book.  :)
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Sandy Price

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Re: Excellent article on American Education
« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2005, 02:16:35 pm »

I have read Gatto's book and have another book to recommend.  "Public Schools, Public Menace" by Joel Turtel.
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5thconcerto

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Re: Excellent article on American Education
« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2005, 02:18:47 pm »

I have read Gatto's book and have another book to recommend.  "Public Schools, Public Menace" by Joel Turtel.

Thanks for the info.  ;)
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Sandy Price

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Re: Excellent article on American Education
« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2005, 02:20:59 pm »

Okay, I have to ask, whose 5th Concerto???
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5thconcerto

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Re: Excellent article on American Education
« Reply #8 on: July 30, 2005, 02:23:59 pm »

Okay, I have to ask, whose 5th Concerto???

Ever read Atlas Shrugged?
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Sandy Price

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Re: Excellent article on American Education
« Reply #9 on: July 30, 2005, 02:27:05 pm »

Absoslutely!  I'm with you now.  I read it first in 1963 and then got to meet Rand when she toured in California.  I've been a rabid fan ever since.  I have worn a gold dollar sign ($) around my neck since that time. 
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5thconcerto

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Re: Excellent article on American Education
« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2005, 02:31:36 pm »

I am an actor/director so the closest thing to a direct relationship of my craft was to the composer who with-held the 5th concerto from the public.
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Sandy Price

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Re: Excellent article on American Education
« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2005, 02:38:18 pm »

Are you into Shakespeare?  I worked for Will Geer's Shakespeare theater for 12 years as a designer costumer.  He got me many actors to work for during those years.  I've travelled all over England hitting every theater production I could find.

Did you make it to New Hampshire?  I can't take the weather in that state.  I'm out here in the Arizona desert where the hot sun is like a tonic to me. 

I am also involved in the promotion of Classical Music here and have spent many years wondering what that concerto sounded like.  I will never know because I would refuse to see what Hollywood would do to that masterpiece of a book. 

www.rightpov.com
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5thconcerto

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Re: Excellent article on American Education
« Reply #12 on: July 30, 2005, 02:56:57 pm »

I have been working with the New England Shakespeare Festival for the past 8 years. I took this summer of, though.
I am a native of NH. I hate the exterem heat!  8)
Would you consider doing costuming for Shakespeare in the Park here in NH?  ;) Just summertimes, of course.
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Sandy Price

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Re: Excellent article on American Education
« Reply #13 on: July 30, 2005, 04:09:43 pm »

What a temptation!! I have costumed Cal State Northridge and Valley College in the Los Angeles Area but I retired completely in 1982 when I moved from the Los Angeles area half way up the coastline to a village called Cambria just 6 miles south of the Hearst Castle/Big Sur area.  My kids were at Berkeley and I loved the coastline of California. 

I'm old, 5th C, and have completely retired from work.  I had a book store for many years and that did me in.  I've worked all my life and need to settle down in the desert. 

Send me your summer schedules and who knows, I may visit one of your productions.  My youngest daughter lives in Bethesda MD and I fly in and out of there a lot.  We love the D.C. Shakespeare group! 
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BrianMcCandliss

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Re: Excellent article on American Education
« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2005, 11:03:14 am »

The problem with the article, is that it's all theory and no proof. My proposal, is to hire commercial private accounting-firms to calculate the cost to the average voter in a private-vs-public school system, figuring for an education of equal quality to that provided by the current public school-system.

If these firms can prove that it would cost less, then people will vote the current system out of existence very quickly-- otherwise, they won't. Simple as that; all the theory and claims in the world otherwise, won't make a damn bit of difference in the real world.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2005, 11:07:36 am by BrianMcCandliss »
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