National Ed Care

As the fall school term approaches there were a lot of announcements this past week relating to education — both K-12 and college — including the annual publication of U.S. News and World Report’s America’s Best Colleges , a Wall Street Journal story about the SAT score results, ACTA’s College Report Card and ISI’s latest edition of “Choosing the Right College .” Then The Los Angeles Unified School District [LAUSD] decided to off load over 200 schools bought and paid for with tax dollars to applicants to operate as Charters. This is most disturbing although many will be shouting hooray.

Let’s recap the situation.

Nationwide, the public K-12 schools will continue to fail miserably despite an increased budget in 2009-10 that will include Obama stimulus money and total over $667 Billion spread over 50 million students — $13,000 plus per child. At colleges, freshmen with GPA’s of 4.7 and a slew of AP courses on their high school transcript will be guided to remedial writing labs so they can get up to speed and write a coherent essay by mid term. Many will not get better at it.

At the same time this is happening we as a nation are having town hall meetings and shouting matches with arrogant politicians and their minions over our distrust with the thought of having government run the health care delivery industry in this country.

Do you sense the disconnect? Why does the idea of public instruction or as my title suggests National Ed Care not bring about the same questioning and emotion and distrust inspired by the prospect of public health management? With education we have years of failure in the U.S. to use as evidence to argue for another path. A path devoid of public finance. But we’re not going there. Why?

Some things need to be laid on the table.

One: The Federal Department of Education and state departments of education are tools of statists. I defer here to Proverbs 22. You know the passages about “the parent is the primary educator of the child.” The educating of a child is a very personal thing. And despite many parent’s lack of confidence it’s something they have traditionally done and can do. Don’t believe me? Read some of the letters sent home during the Civil War and WWI by primarily home educated soldiers. Their expressions of wit, solemnity and grace are far more eloguent than the stuff that lands today’s college freshmen in that writing lab described above. Have doubts? read your kid’s emails. With its continued reach into our education, the government is increasingly pushing to mold curriculum in a fashion that ignores tradition, reason and faith.

Two: The benefit of an educated public is an informed electorate. That’s what Thomas Jefferson believed and it remains an absolute necessity for sustaining a free people. Sadly, our knowledge of American History and Civics is lacking. We left it to the public schools and they have predictably dropped the ball. Don’t believe me? What about earlier this year when Congress almost unanimously voted to tax after the fact employees of a private company who had been paid bonus money. That’s called an “ex post facto” law and is forbid by the U.S. Constitution [Article I, Section 10], the law those legislators swore to support and defend. But the question of doing something explicitly against the law since the country’s founding didn’t raise a stir among the public. Very likely because they never learned about it in their public schools.

Three: Not all students should be pushed toward college. The ease with which credit became available to finance college costs increased the “opportunity” and cost for students who in other times might have chosen a trade or career path that didn’t require four years of college. Now, everyone is considered eligible for that trophy. Most High Schools no longer offer non-college prep tracts so many kids are either overwhelmed or drop out instead of being guided into skills and job training that would fill the nation’s need for tasks which go wanting these days. Stuff like plumbers, electricians, food service, office staffing. I don’t know what it’s like in your neighborhood but in mine a plumber with a good attitude and some cheap cologne can make a valuable contribution and more money than many college graduates.

Charter Schools are public schools under different management . That’s likely to make some of my friends in this debate unhappy but it’s true and I have to tell you that if the LAUSD charter plan goes through, you will see a rush by progressive, leftist activists groups in the Los Angeles area to file applications and start charter schools of their own design, to push their own agenda. The review of charter curriculums after initial approval will not take place for three or more years and since it will be done by the same bureaucrats who have dropped the ball for the past 50 years, we cannot count on the public’s money being put to use in a way that satisfies my point “Two” above: to educate an informed public. Don’t kid yourselves, the charter will not look for operating savings, they’ll use up the $13,000. per child the state’s accustomed to spending. That’s what is happening now.

Anecdotal proof of a need for concern is the furor that took place in 2008 in the San Francisco Bay area of California when elementary school children were taken to the same sex union of their lesbian teacher without parental notification. The teacher thought it would be an enriching experience. The school was a charter.

“But we can’t home school our kids,” cries a mother. “I’ve got to work. We both have to. We don’t have a choice.”

The alternative to chartering is a voucher. Parochial K-8 schools like those run by the Catholic Church and other denominations charge an average of $5,000 for annual tuition in many areas of the U.S.. The number is significantly less than the state spends and the results are superior and the surroundings more in line with a family’s beliefs. As a parent a voucher would allow you to be free to choose.

In my novel about a family’s decision to home school , the mother cries out in doubt, “What if I screw up. What if he can’t get into college.” She is persuaded by an older neighbor and former professor that there will be “lots of help.” And there is. But it’s help that is there to guide them to the truth; not what the state whispers in our ears — a persuasion that there can be a heaven on earth.

National Health Care is a bad idea. State run education has been a failure. Both need to be rejected.

[This article was previously published by www.acton.org and is used by permission.]

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  • Warren Jewell

    Amen!

    As long as medicine is run for the sake of the physicians, contra their patients, and education for teachers, contra our students, we will persist at less-than-principled medical care and that alleged ‘education’. American education has become ‘conformity indoctrination’ over producing students given knowledge bases and thinking processes.

    In my biography, too, unfortunately, in the nineteen-fifties and early sixties, Catholic education was already dropping the catechetical ball. In terms of my faith, I am ‘home-schooled’ – by myself.

  • Kathryn

    I would argue that vouchers are also a bad idea because the State may get it into its head that the voucher–now tax payer funds remember!–needs to have “oversight” attached to it. I know non-Catholics who want to send their kids to Catholic schools because they offer a superior education that the public variety, but those same parents don’t want any of the “Catholic stuff” (aka, Hail Mary’s, weekly Mass) attached to it. Naturally, the parochial schools–which provide jobs for people, are willing to go along with what the parents/market wants.

    If the schools start to rely on vouchers for their income, and the State decides that the schools in order to qualify need to have “inclusive” (perhaps homosexual) education, the school will certainly feel the need to comply in some fashion–just as we are seeing “Catholic” health care systems provide for abortion/contraceptive/sterilization procedures without actually doing those kids of things themselves.

    It is interesting to note that neither Hillsdale College nor Grove City (I think it is Grove City) will accept students who want to use gov’t backed loans for fear of having to meet Federal gov’t “education” requirements, hiring quotas, etc.

    Then, too, isn’t a voucher a little bit like the easy credit Ken Larson mentions? If enough of vouchers are floating about, won’t that eventually cause the price of private school education to got up? The axiom: “What the Market will Bear” comes to mind, espcially if not enough private schools are created to meet demand. It is a rather difficult thing to start a private school.

    The only solution seems to be what many people just don’t want to say: end tax payer funded, compulsory education. Period. No “free” public school systems, no charters, no vouchers. No compulsion. The money for education should not leave the pockets of the parents. Regulations need to be changed to make it less burdensome for people who want to start schools to start them.

  • http://arkanabar.blogspot.com Arkanabar Ilarsadin

    Kathryn: You are absolutely correct. In order to maintain its independence from the Federal Department of Education, Hillsdale College doesn’t just have to turn away all federal grants pushed their way. They must turn away ALL STUDENTS with Pell Grants, Guaranteed Student Loans, or ANY OTHER form of government-funded financial aid.

    The only sane course of action regarding education is that suggested by the Alliance for the Separation of School and State: http://www.sepschool.org

  • Ken Larson

    Arkanabar is not correct with the statement that Hillsdale “must turn away ALL STUDENTS with Pell Grants,…” The school makes an effort, usually successfully, to find private money so as to avoid the tentacles of government control and allow qualified students to attend. This is made abundantly clear on its web site and promotional materials and recently the policy was extended to State of Michigan grants and aid packages.

    If you like Hillsdale’s spunk I’m sure their endowment people would love to talk to you about a gift.

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