Skip to comments.Union Fraud Underscores Need for School Vouchers
Posted on 02/05/2003 6:05:58 AM PST by Stand Watch Listen
Buried in the president's budget this week was enough money to dramatically transform educational opportunity for children in the nation's capital, one of the worst school systems in the country.
As part of his continuing program to leave no child behind, President Bush has proposed a modest $756 million to promote school choice programs in the District of Columbia and several other cities. But the proposal faces tough opposition from Democrats beholden to teacher unions, who see school vouchers as a mortal threat.
Nowhere could there be a starker contrast between what's good for kids and what's in the best interests of teacher unions than in the District of Columbia.
Washington, D.C., public schools are at the bottom of national achievement rankings based on student performance. On the National Assessment of Educational Progress reading tests administered to D.C. fourth- and eighth-graders, only 10 and 12 percent (respectively) scored at a proficient level, while in math, only 6 percent of both fourth- and eighth-graders were proficient. Scores in science were even worse, with only 5 percent of eighth-grade students demonstrating proficiency.
Democrats routinely look at such abysmal statistics as proof that we need to pour more money into schools. But the District of Columbia's problem isn't too little funding.
Whereas D.C. ranks at the bottom when it comes to student performance, it ranks near the top when it comes to spending. Average per pupil expenditure nationwide was about $7,000 in the 2000-2001 school year (the last year for which figures are available), which represents more than a three-fold increase in constant dollars over the last 40 years. But spending on D.C. students far out-paced spending nationally, with the District spending more than $10,000 per student in 2000-2001, or more than 40 percent more than the national average.
Clearly, D.C. taxpayers aren't getting their money's worth, and the children forced to attend failing schools are getting ripped off even more.
Meanwhile, the Washington (D.C.) Teachers Union (WTU) marshals all its power to keep parents from having some choice in the schools their children attend. When it comes to the WTU, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, the record is particularly sickening.
The WTU led the effort to defeat a D.C. ballot initiative in the early 1980s that would have given parents a tax credit if they chose to send their children to private schools, and the union and its national affiliate have fought every effort to create a voucher program in Washington, D.C.
Union officials are clearly worried that many parents would pull their kids out of lousy public schools if given the chance, which, in turn, would drain the union's coffers.
So how are D.C. teachers union dues spent? Certainly not in improving education in the city's schools. WTU officials have recently been accused of embezzling some $5 million from the union treasury-money teachers in the District of Columbia are forced to pay as a condition of employment.
According to investigators, D.C. teachers were overcharged $144 per member by the WTU last year. While much of the money appears to have gone to pay for designer clothing and furs, lavish furniture, cars and chauffeurs for union officials, some of the embezzled money went to improperly reimburse union officials for political contributions to Democratic candidates as well.
One of the accused officials, Gwendolyn Hemphill, was previously the executive director of the D.C. Democratic Party, and more than $13,000 in suspicious union donations to Democratic Washington, D.C., Mayor Anthony Williams showed up in a recent campaign audit.
Monopoly power breeds such corruption. Teacher unions exert a stranglehold over the Democratic Party, which in turn does the unions' bidding when it comes to education policy.
But if kids in the District of Columbia and other failing schools systems around the country are to have any chance of succeeding, they have to be allowed to abandon schools that don't teach-and that means giving school vouchers to poor parents so they can choose better schools for their children.
Creators Syndicate, Inc.
Walter E. Williams: Inferior Education of Black Americans
Source:CNSNews.com; Published: February 05, 2003; Author: Walter E. Williams
Last week's column discussed some of the controversy surrounding the University of Michigan's admissions practices, where blacks and Hispanics are given points based solely on race, and where whites are turned away to admit blacks and Hispanics with much lower academic qualifications.
A few weeks before that, my column discussed the deplorable conditions in Washington, D.C.'s high schools. At 12 of its 19 high schools, more than 50 percent of the students test below basic in reading, and at some of those schools the percentages approached 80 percent. At 15 of these schools, over 50 percent tests below basic in math. And in 12 of them, 70 percent to 99 percent do so. Each year, more than 80 percent-and up to 96 percent-of high school students are fraudulently promoted to the next grade.
Washington's predominantly black high schools are not alone in delivering fraudulent education. In Philadelphia's predominantly black high schools, combined SAT scores of its seniors average between 590 to 800 out of a possible 1600. I suspect that there's little difference between these education outcomes and those in other predominantly black school districts. Indeed, nationally there's over a 200 SAT score gap between blacks and Hispanics on the one hand, and whites and Asians on the other. ..........."
Why is it that Asian students at *these very same schools* deemed "failing" still seem to fill the honors classes, become National Merit semi-finalists, etc. as well as score far higher on state assessments? It can't be the school. Why is this an argument for vouchers, when some students *are* able to do well in these schools?
But even if it was within one school, the problem can be one of racist/low-expectations. Holding the black students to high standards - regardless of how integrated the school is - regardless of how other students do - is the best way to get good results. Not everyone will succeed - but far fewer will fail! But not having high expectations is a recipie for failure. In fact, Walter Williams reports on the VERY HIGH SUCCESS by a private school that requires hard work and holds the students accountable to very high expectations.
My wife's "baby brother" was in a school with low requirements, little parental involvement, and lots of touchy-feely curriculum, and the school essentially let the students work at what ever pace they wanted, and the school was great on "self-esteem" - regardless of effort put in. Of course, those parents that were REALLY involved, pushed, and their children typically succeeded, regardless. But uninvolved parents (and the school "encouraged" no involvment and discouraged "involved" parents..) might not know what was happening. My wife's parents found out early that the child would do the minimum - and if little was expected, even less would be done. They yanked him out of the public school and put him into the local Catholic school - where he was pushed to do more.
The ultimate question is why not make the system more "pro-choice" so parents might be better enabled to help their children succeed!.
In fact, Rep. Harry Moberly, D-Richmond, and chairman of the House budget committee, admits that schools will get a $27 million increase next year over the budget that the legislature proposed last year!! Anyone else outraged by the Kentucky Education Association's money grab ??
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