Education reform (Part 1)

Parents, take note: Attacks on liberty in our schools - common Core and other global initiatives put a worm into this apple, producing students who do not think. Here's another worm: when teachers take a prey from among their own students. Not to mention a teacher who prostitutes herself to a corrupt seller of offices. Or an anti-bullying campaign that pulls a cruel humanitarian hoax by replacing one kind of bullying with another.
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The state of education in America has been steadily declining since the Department of Education was created by President Jimmy Carter in 1979. Many factors contributing to this decline have been identified and many solutions have been proposed.

Bad ideas in education reform

To date, all the analysis and well-intentioned legislation has exasperated an already dire situation. Most notably would be “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) created by President George W. Bush. NCLB seemed logical at the time as have numerous committees and dedicated citizen groups committed to resolving this issue. Unfortunately, NCLB was a disappointing and expensive failure – worse than that – we are left with a declining educational “system” and more government intrusion.

Before NCLB, the solution to a failing academic system was reported to be large classroom sizes, and then insufficiently funded schools. In New Jersey in 2012, we have smaller classrooms and embarrassingly large school budgets resulting in the highest per student costs in the nation – but the academic achievement levels of our students continue to decline. The private sector is another story. There the tuition costs are usually significantly less than the per capita costs of the local public school and the academic standards are usually higher.

As a TEA Party activist, I believe that good government is government that stays out of our way. However, even the most ardent TEA Party activists continue to look to government to solve the problems that government created in education. It seems that like it or not, we have been conditioned to thinking that way.

Through the years we have seen a plethora of school legislation evolve as well as teachers’ unions’ initiatives that have protected the careers of teachers but have not improved the educational standards within the system. Some programs and legislation have shown marginal promise but none have been able to turn the tides of a disappointing into a desirable and competitive system – regardless of reduced classroom sizes and suffocating school budgets. The exception happened in Louisiana, where private sector schools emerged after Hurricane Katrina devastated the public school facilities. If every cloud has a silver lining, then the success of private sector schools in Louisiana would certainly qualify.

How not to solve the problem

New Jersey Tea Party Caucus, champions of education reformIs there a solution? I believe there is but the solution neither lies in the halls of government nor in the pocket books of our citizens. It lies in a citizenry that is willing to step up to the proverbial plate, roll up its sleeves, and take matters into its own hands. American ingenuity can solve this problem as it has solved many other problems in the past. But in order to flourish, American ingenuity must not be shackled by intrusive government.

First and foremost, we must stop fighting the system. Like all strongholds, tyrannical teachers’ unions and state and federal departments of education will not relinquish their power. Efforts to fight this battle on their turf have failed and in the process wasted our time, used our resources, and dumbed-down our academic as well as our moral standards.

While school choice legislation has been a knight in shining armor on this battlefield, in order to succeed it has had to compromise itself to the point that the choices available have morphed into public school light. Historically, participation in school choice programs requires government oversight and non-discrimination clauses that render liberty of conscience impudent and continue to further liberal agendas. Touchy-feely educational philosophies have replaced historic reading, writing and arithmetic. The result is the inadequately prepared and hedonistic workforce we have today.

How to solve the problem

The good news is that we can circumvent the system. We can do this by offering “school choice” that is not part of a government-sanctioned program. As parents realize that they have the choice of placing their children in academically superior (and safer) classrooms, they will choose the best options for their children. If the public schools are not the best options, the competition will create a population shift that will force public schools to revitalize their academic standards. Revitalizing academic standards will have a cause and effect upon the programs and curricula. Liberal agendas will have to take a back seat to academics, since there are only so many hours in each school day and since parents will hopefully opt out of systems that socially indoctrinate students rather than teach academics. Additionally, declining public school populations will reduce their budgets, which in turn will reduce our tax burdens. This is a win/win situation.

Of course this plan will not work unless we have a strategy that creates real choices in education. The school choice being discussed here is not to be confused with school choice legislation that is a voucher system under a more politically acceptable label. The school choice being proposed is a developed strategy that will be designed to create alternatives in education within a community. This can be achieved in several ways that can be modeled, promoted, and established through the creation of the following:

  1. A co-op of home schoolers;
  2. Church-based schools that are eligible for tax deductible donations;
  3. Independent schools that are also eligible for tax deductible donations;
  4. Establish and promote alternative unions that teachers can join. Unions that offer choices for Conservative teachers – empowering the Conservative unions similar to the liberal ones extant today;
  5. Establish an academic advocacy group that advocates in public schools for higher academic standards;
  6. Establish liaisons between all groups and legislators, encouraging them to create common sense legislation that is thought through and does no harm. This will be addressed in Part Two of this mini-series.
  7. Demand higher standards for those entering the teaching profession. The old phrase “Those who can do; those who can’t teach” should go into the trash bin of out-of-date truisms. We should demand only the best of the best in our classrooms. Along these lines, tenure as we know it should be abolished and replaced with merit pay for exceptional teachers. A form of tenure that honors seniority but is regulated by common sense should replace the nonsensical tenure that exists today.

The NJ TEA Party Caucus will be happy to share this plan as it is being developed and brought into reality. We would also like to invite those who have ideas that can contribute to the development of this plan to contact us through our website.

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RoseAnn Salanitri is a published author and Acquisition Editor for the New Jersey Family Policy Council. She is a community activist who has founded the Sussex County Tea Party in her home state and launched a recall movement against Senator Robert Menendez. RoseAnn is also the founder of Veritas Christian Academy, as well as co-founder of Creation Science Alive, and a national creation science speaker.

4 Responses to Education reform (Part 1)

  1. JT says:

    “Church-based schools”

    This would also apply to schools attached to synagogs and mosques, right?

    and obviously some sort of oversight over the “home schoolers” co-op. Otherwise, they’ll be teaching any old rubbish and wondering why their kids aren’t getting into the decent colleges.

  2. DinsdaleP says:

    The “Church-based schools” line stood out as well. I have a feeling that the policy goal is to allow the money that would be spent on public schools to be spent on church-run schools, all in the name of “competition”.

    I’m waiting for Part 2 to see what the actual proposals are before commenting further.

    • Terry A. Hurlbut says:

      Eventually, we seek to abolish public schools and separate school from state. I don’t see how you would have any complaint then.

  3. […] reform (Part 2) June 16, 2012   RoseAnn Salanitri   1 Comment As I said in Part 1 of this two-part series, the state of education in America has steadily declined from a myriad of […]

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