Skip to comments.Sowell: Education at a Crossroads
Posted on 02/04/2017 12:22:03 PM PST by jazusamo
In just a matter of days -- perhaps next Monday -- a decision will be made in Washington affecting the futures of millions of children in low-income communities, and in the very troubled area of race relations in America.
An opportunity has arisen -- belatedly -- that may not come again in this generation. That is an opportunity to greatly expand the kinds of schools that have successfully educated, to a high level, inner-city youngsters whom the great bulk of public schools fail to educate to even minimally adequate levels.
What may seem on the surface to be merely a matter of whether the U.S. Senate confirms or rejects the nomination of Betsy DeVos to be head of the U.S. Department of Education involves far bigger stakes.
The teachers' unions and the education establishment in general know how big those stakes are, and have mounted an all-out smear campaign to prevent her from being confirmed.
What makes Mrs. DeVos seem so threatening to the teachers' unions and their political allies?
She has, for more than 20 years, been promoting programs, laws and policies that enable parents to choose which schools their children will attend -- whether these are charter schools, voucher schools or parochial schools.
Some of these charter schools -- especially those in the chain of the Success Academy schools and the chain of the KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) schools -- operate in low-income, minority neighborhoods in the inner-cities, and turn out graduates who can match the educational performances of students in affluent suburbs. What is even more remarkable, these charter schools are often housed in the very same buildings, in the very same ghettoes, where students in the regular public schools fail to learn even the basics in English or math.
You and I may think this is great. But, to the teachers' unions, such charter schools are a major threat to their members' jobs -- and ultimately to the unions' power or existence.
If parents have a choice of where to send their children, many of those parents are not likely to send them to failing public schools, when there are alternative schools available that equip those youngsters with an education that can open the way to a far better future for them.
Already there are tens of thousands of children on waiting lists to get into charter schools, just in New York alone. Those waiting lists are a clear threat to teachers' unions, whose leaders think schools exist to provide guaranteed jobs for their members.
Mrs. DeVos has shown for more than 20 years that she thinks schools exist to educate children. One of the biggest complaints about her is that, unlike Secretaries of Education before her, she does not come out of the government's education establishment. Considering what a miserable job that establishment has done, especially in inner-city schools, her independence is a plus.
Teachers' unions have fought for years to prevent charter schools from being created. Now that such schools have been created, and there are now huge waiting lists, the teachers' unions have gotten politicians to put a numerical cap on the number of such schools, regardless of how large the waiting lists are.
Desperate attempts to smear Betsy DeVos, in order to prevent her from being confirmed as Secretary of Education, have not let the facts get in the way.
She is accused of "steering public dollars away from traditional public schools." But nobody can steer anything anywhere, when it is individual parents who make the decisions as to where they want their children educated. The money follows the children.
Neither the money nor the children get steered by education bureaucrats, as happens with traditional public schools.
If charter schools educate one-third of the students in a district, and get one-third of the money, how does that reduce the amount of money per child in the public school? Actually, charter schools usually get less money per student, but produce better results.
American education is at a crossroads. If the teachers' unions and their allies can defeat the nomination of Mrs. DeVos, and the Republicans substitute someone else more acceptable to the education establishment, a historic opportunity will be lost, and may never come again in this generation.
Understandable. The left doesn’t WANT an ‘educated’ populace. If youngsters were educated, why, they might grow up to be *GASP* Conservative!
And we can’t have that! ;)
One should not retire from life until they carry you off to the asylum or the cemetery.
I’d hoped his ‘retirement’ was only from regularly scheduled columns and he’d still contribute when he saw fit. I’m glad to have that hope confirmed. I hope this helps prevent the rino dingbat sisters from blocking Trump’s fixer!
Agreed, it’s good to see he’ll be writing from time to time.
I also believe a very big problem in education is that most teachers can’t teach math or science beyond sixth grade or so; the union rules requires a math teacher to receive the same pay as a gym teacher, so those that can DON’T teach - they work in the private sector instead (where supply & demand reaps richer rewards).
For years we’ve heard that “education” majors are at the bottom of their college classes; I can absolutely believe it.
Like mushrooms they are fed sh## and kept in the dark
It is pleasant to realize Dr. Sowell has continued to share his opinion with the great unwashed. Perhaps his opinion of the President is softening. Can intellectuals admit they could have been wrong?
Maybe they're afraid the public will notice that the government schools continue to cost more, even as fewer and fewer students attend them.
Yep, I’d bet they are afraid of that and the NEA and public school districts don’t let facts get in the way when it comes to funding.
They always talk about “budget cuts,” but they never talk about “spending cuts.”
A “budget cut” is when the district proposes an “everything but the kitchen sink” budget to the county, and the county gives them everything but the sink and a spoon.
A pet peeve of mine is that in the best of circumstances - i.e., America in 1950 - people do not select themselves to be grade-school teachers because they love mathematics. They select themselves to be grade school teachers because they like to deal with kids. The result is that grade school teachers tend very strongly to think of mathematics in terms of Arithmetic - specifically, number crunching.
Word problems were the bane of the typical student; they were candy to me. An interesting challenge. But I did not on that account become convinced that I was good at math. I got no particular encouragement, and I disliked the number crunching exercises so I was not in love with grade-school math. That came later, in Plane Geometry class.
My kids’ teachers basically direct them to websites that show them how to do math; the teachers themselves don’t know how to do it.
Just not their thing.
Note also that the Democrat party was the Party of Slavery™ at its founding two centuries ago and remains the Party of Slavery™ today.
Can you imagine what one or two generations of that might accomplish?
It sure is. But try to explain that to a member of the Socialist Democrat Party; they’re so brainwashed that they’re CERTAIN that is the history of the Republican Party!
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