Framing the Dialogue

Liberal Alters – Public Education

My own personnel experience with public education was limited to a year in kindergarten at Horace Mann school.  The building still stands today, but no education going on in there anymore unless you consider stabbings and shootings and in particular how to avoid them education.  My parents enrolled me in a private educational system starting if first grade.  Before you get all twisted the private education was Catholic Schools in which I spent the next twelve years.  Going to Catholic grade school was certainly convenient as I could walk there and there certainly was discipline growing up Catholic.

Fast forward to when my wife (then fiance) were looking to buy our first home.  One of our prime considerations was the school district where our home would be.  We did some research and found the district and concentrated our search in a district in a suburb of the City of Pittsburgh.  Our children attended public schools for their entire career (we still have one more working through high school) and have fared well in the system.  I should note that our district is run by the parents, monitored by the parents, and dominated by the parents.  In our case the public schools have been successful and our children thrived and had plenty of opportunities. 

Horace Mann

Perhaps my attendance at Horace Mann School was providential as in looking up how to correctly spell his name, I found out that Mr. Mann was considered the “Father of the Common School Movement.”    Mann thought that public education would improve the youth of our nation.  Like many decent ideas, the public school idea became an over burdensome government program that has had catastrophic results.  Not everywhere, but certainly in many, urban areas in particular.  Democrats and liberals have hoisted the public education system on to a pedestal/alter as if they alone have all of the answers and that answer is money; our money in the form of tax dollars taken from us. 

In my district we spend just over $13,000 per student (that is the total district budget divided by the total enrollment – those are 2010/2011 numbers).  The results are pretty good as they were recently voted number four in the country by GreatSchools, their high school has consistently ranked among the top ten in the state (over 500 districts) and have the highest graduation rate in the county.  Let’s contrast that with the urban schools in the City of Pittsburgh.  The first thing that I noticed is that it is virtually impossible to find the budget and enrollment numbers on their web site.  Based on news stories, the Pittsburgh Public School roughly spent $20,000 per student (that is for 2009/2010) and is expected to increase to as much as $31,000 per student by 2012.  That is astonishing. 

It gets even scarier in my area as legislators are trying to reduce the number of school districts by consolidating them along county boundaries.  That means our schools will be run by the same folks that run the Pittsburgh schools.  They outnumber us by a large margin and are certain to control the direction of education.  My last child will have graduated by then.  It’s funny that the Pennsylvania legislature, the largest in the country, never considers consolidation of itself by reducing the number of members.  By the way, being the largest means being one of the most expensive.

The constant call by Democrats and liberals for more and more and more and more money for education is ludicrous based on their results.  Some studies show that American students’ relative scores get worse the longer they are in public schools when compared to their counterparts in other countries.  So we pay more for less.  If you don’t believe what I say about this high alter, consider this from the Heritage Foundation:

“President Jimmy Carter created the DOE in 1979. When President Ronald Reagan came into office a year later, he sought to limit the federal government’s newly expanded role in education and undo what he called Carter’s “bureaucratic boondoggle.”  But despite its creation just 30 years ago, the DOE’s discretionary budget is the third largest, behind only the Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services.”

The results of a recent study funded by the National Science Foundation concluded that spending more money does not improve test scores [read that as knowledge].  The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review noted;

“Spending more on education has not improved students’ test scores in Pennsylvania, says a group that studied three years’ worth of achievement test scores.  The 21st Century Partnership for STEM Education, a Conshohocken group, found that test scores in 50 districts spending the least money per student were “nearly identical” to — and in some cases, better than — those in the 50 districts spending the most.”

You can expect the outcry against the study to start very soon. 

Besides more money Liberals are always calling for longer school days and longer school years.  I see this as furthering the Nanny state and potentially giving the federal government more control of our children.  I don’t care if that sounds whacky, but look at some of the things they are teaching our children without our knowledge.  A simple search of the term “public education” on Free Republic’s web site yielded these headlines [click on the link to read]:

Is your head ready to explode?  There is hope as there are folks fighting like the Texas commissioners putting some conservative principles back into their textbooks.  And I’ll leave you with my favorite governor, New Jersey’s Chris Christie as he addresses some of NJ’s education/budget issues:

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