by: F.R. Duplantier
The solution to the public school crisis in America is staring us in the face.
Outcome-Based Education (OBE) is proposed as a remedy for "a nation at risk." What's really putting American children at risk, however, is OBE itself! We parents send out kids to school to be educated, not indoctrinated. The teachers and administrators work for us. We pay their salaries. We are, in effect, their employers, but somehow we've forgotten who's in charge. We've allowed ourselves to be cowed by our subordinates, and by suffering their insolence we've ceded control. But hear this: We've had enough. We're tired of educators refusing to perform the job they've been assigned and presuming instead to take on a responsibility that does not belong to them. We'll instill in our own children the values we want them to have, and we will not tolerate some third party trying to 'clarify,' repress, or replace those values. We want teachers to teach our children, not brainwash them. We're taking charge again, and the educators will answer to us, not vice versa.
What's wrong with public schools? Complacency, lack of supervision, lack of accountability, misapplication of funds, domination by vested interests -- in short, all of the predictable effects of a protected monopoly. So, what do we do? Do we continue to address the symptoms of the underlying problem, or do we at long last summon the will to address the problem itself? Can we finally acknowledge that what's wrong with the public schools is their publicness? As long as the public schools belong to everyone, they will be accountable to no one. We cannot solve the problem until we admit this. Once we've admitted it, the problem will be easy to solve. That's because there's nothing wrong with the public schools that the free market can't fix. More important, there's nothing wrong with the public schools that anything but the free market can fix.
Teacher's Pet Peeve
The most vigorous opponent of privatization, needless to say, is the National Education Association. Maybe it's time for the dedicated, hardworking teachers out there to tell the NEA how deeply offended they are by the union's promotion of practices that are individually and socially destructive, how much they resent the union's use of their dues to support candidates and legislation they personally oppose, and how the NEA's radical agenda violates their religious and moral beliefs.
Parents of private and parochial school students have a strong financial incentive for asserting their authority and responsibility. Parents of public school students can reclaim theirs any time they want. Nobody's forcing them to send their offspring to public schools. The vast majority could well afford to finance a private-school education. The ugly truth is, they don't care enough to do so. They like their little discount, the subsidy provided to them by taxpaying neighbors. Maybe the first step in reforming the public school system is to establish means testing, and make parents (who can) pay the full cost of their child's education. The extra charge might help them recover their authority.
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