Gangland Tactics of Public Education Officials Bleed Us Dry

penguincoffee.jpg Johnny Wingnut

The Syndicate hates competition, and they love spin, almost as much as they love money.

But Mafia types aren’t the only ones who hate competition so much they will go to extremes to eliminate it. OK, maybe that was a bit strong. The group I’m speaking of hasn’t killed anybody yet, at least not anybody I know of, but they have resorted to all kinds of clever legal gymnastics to take out the competition. They are both masters of spin and lovers of money. I’m referring to a diverse breed of ivory tower public education bureaucrats. They have the sensitivity of John Dewey; the romanticism of William Heard Kilpatrick; and as we’ll soon see, the pragmatism of Al Capone.

(January, 5th 2006) The Tallahassee, Fla. Supreme Court ruled 5-2 in favor of abolishing its state wide school voucher program. The program in question allowed students who have earned a failing grade two out of four years to attend private schools using tax funded vouchers. The court’s rationale for axing the program: It “undermines public schools and violates the state’s constitutional requirement of a uniform system of free public education.”

The manifest absurdity of the court’s reasoning here is evident; because the basis for instituting the voucher system was the failure of Florida’s public school system to get the job done, which begs the question: If the system isn’t working then why are the public education authorities worried about it being undermined?

Moreover, framing the argument as “free public education” vs. tax payer funded private education is arguing semantics. F.Y.I. “your honors”: public education ain’t free. My tax dollars are paying for it. And I’d much rather pay for a system of education that works than one that is terminally ill.

But who was behind this ideological move in the guise of law and order? Only the people who stood to lose the most: the State Teacher’s Union, the Florida PTA, the NAACP, and the League of Women Voters—all organizations who have vested interests in perpetuating our failed experiment in public education in true mobster fashion, which means minimizing the competition. In the process, they are hurting the very people they claim to care about: children.

Chief Justice Barbara Pariente was quoted as saying the voucher program “diverts public dollars into separate private systems parallel to and in competition with the free public schools.” Thanks a lot Justice Pariente. You act as though competition were a bad thing. Shouldn’t the establishment be more concerned with the quality of education than with competition? And if competition is allowed, history has shown it to be beneficial to both the product and the process. Unfortunately, the public educational authorities don’t share my enthusiasm for competition, and why should they? Tax dollars follow students, and if other institutions of learning are doing the job in the wake of failed public education, where do you think the money will go? That is why their strategy has to be elimination of the competition, which amounts to outlawing any legislation that encourages it on a level playing field.

Once again, we have a triumph for judicial activism and the “American way” over common sense. These organizations are more worried about the loss of jobs, revenue, and perks, which go with the white elephant we call public education, than they are about those who have fallen through the gaping holes in the system. And what of the ones that somehow manage to survive the indoctrination of our entrenched authoritarian illuminati? Well, I’m almost sure some of them end up sitting on a Supreme Court bench legislating nonsense.

Who can argue with the results of our mediocre and dare I say it immoral public education system? If the culture were Prince William Sound, then public education would be the Exxon Valdez, and there are no retroactive countermeasures to clean up the mess. The most we can do is try to contain the spill, scrap the boat, and start over. In the meantime, it’s tax dollars (yours and mine) which perpetuate the myth of so called “free” public education and we’re doing it at the additional expense of our children.

Finally, I fully realize that there are pockets of resistance within the system–intrepid individuals, (and in some cases entire school systems) raging against the machine, but they are the exception. Most of the educators I know trying to affect change from the inside out are hopelessly down trodden. They are mired in standards so ambiguous that Einstein would have trouble comprehending them, and under intense pressure from the Captain Ahab’s of public education not to make waves.

They are the unsung heroes of this story. It takes guts to go up against a force which has the power to make your life a living hell if you don’t toe the party line. Such is the pitiful legacy of public education—children who have been taught what to think instead of how to think, and gifted educators who are minimized by the establishment’s lack of vision. Meanwhile, the kangaroo courts of our country continue to aid and abet the bureaucracy in bleeding our culture dry of both intellectual and economic capital. Al Capone would’ve loved it.

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~ by johnnywingnut on November 13, 2007.

12 Responses to “Gangland Tactics of Public Education Officials Bleed Us Dry”

  1. I have a daughter who is a teacher and worked at one time in the city of Chicago. She was teaching there because her husband was going to medical school at the University of Chicago and they wanted to live close to the University. She ended up in a school with kids who were sure to drop out and go into a gang. Her first day there, one of her students was killed in a drive-by while waiting for the bus. (needless to say, I got little sleep while she was there).

    Anyway, after coming from teaching at a suburban school, she couldn’t believe how badly the Chicago school system was run. The teachers unions weren’t worth a damn. They did nothing to help the teachers. The administration could care less about the kids and wrote them off before they even started. Whenever she brought in extra curricular stuff that would make learning for the kids more interesting or fun, the administration had a fit. She taught History, but said she spent just as much time on teaching the kids how to write essays and how to spell. She had the highest attendance in her classes and a good portion of the kids passed with good grades (which wasn’t easy because she’s a tough grader). All of this was rewarded with a reprimand at the end of her first year and she was told to “get with the program”, which meant, make learning boring, don’t bother with the loser kids-they’re not worth the effort.

    She quit teaching there after two years because she knew she would be fired if she continued to try to help the kids learn. The teachers union made it very clear, they would not back her.

    In the U.S., it all boils down to one thing. If you’re not rich, you won’t get anywhere in life. The Chicago Public School system does nothing but take in money and overpay the administration. Everytime more money is allocated to the schools, it gets sucked up by bureaucracy.

  2. Those cubicles don’t fill themselves with mindless automatons! Creating educated, well-rounded citizens will never be a priority in this country as long as money is given pride of place.

  3. As you know JW, I worked in the school system. After witnessing “No Childs Leaved Behind” for two whole days, I had enough.

    Why not simply give kids some cud to chew on? It has to be cheaper, and think of all the time we’d save.

    MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

  4. JWN- I worked in some Chicago Public Schools and like Mary Ellen said there is an incredible lack of accountability. The bar is lowered not raised and everyone from maintenance to administration does ‘just enough’.
    I would love to blame ‘no child left behind’ but I can’t; this environment existed before the stupid legislation. I remember perusing through some of the kids books and I noticed the final chapter in the history book was on Ronald Reagan and the Space Shuttle. This was 1999.
    My sister works for CPS now.
    She agrees there is no accountability. People start out trying to really change things but then they go through a frustrating indoctrination reprimands, hostility from co-workers if you go above and beyond established protocols; it is a process that saps their energy and ultimately causes even the most caring people to give up.
    The education system in America is state babysitting. The kids that are taught at home tend to take advantage of school.
    It all starts at home.

  5. Why would this country want educated citizens?

    That would fuck up the plan.

    While, as DBD says, education starts at home, it would be good if this country had some standards for what education is and why it matters.

    Right now it matters for some as a way to get into the right college and make assloads of money. As a capitialist I don’t disdain money, but to make it with reckless disregard for the world around us, is folly.

    To value education as a method of opening the mind, being the catalyst for creative thinking and as a method for continuing public good seems to be lost of late.

    Education is now a part of a goal oriented system and not a means to anything in and of itself.

    That is sad.

  6. If you are troubled by large bureaucracies and the attendant gaming of them by interested parties and that is your point, I wholeheartedly agree. Let’s rethink all this, maybe add some market mechanisms, why not? But if you’re just stopping at education you are a FRAUD, figuratively and literally.

    Let’s start with the figurative. If the system of allocating money to public education is inefficient and ought to be corrected by competitition to be kickstarted by vochers, then what the fuck’s up with the outrageous system of COST-PLUS, NO BID CONTRACTS AWARDED FROM THE MASSIVE NATIONAL SECURITY AND WAR STATE TO DEFENSE CONTRACTORS? It’s big. It’s corrupt. It’s bureaucratic. And it has no market-based controls. Now, law enforcement. Are the FBI, Department Of Justice and every local law enforcement agency in the United States EFFICIENT? WITHOUT CORRUPTION? FULLFILLING THEIR MANDATES? You know they aren’t.

    But, as you LIKE the war apparatus and law-enforcement industry, their excesses on the public dole don’t bother you. That’s why your argument is fraudulent.

    Depending on how deeply involved YOU personally are, what YOU personally stand to gain materially from a voucher system, you may actually be committing fraud or possibly are involved in conspiracy thereof. If it’s nothing and you are just opining, you are not doing anything wrong, merely doing a little ideological okey-doke. I’m not a law enforcement official nor an American resident so I really don’t give a crap one way or the other.

    But tell the truth using numbers what this voucher thing really is. All of the voucher advocates make it seem like the vouchers will cover any poor child’s admission to Exeter. Please, JWN, lie to me right now and say ANY voucher proposed in any state or municipality or even dreamed up in any righty think tank purports to be able to pay full-freight for a public school kid to switch to Exeter. Please. Just say that the voucher plan will allow the family of a gifted inner-city student to swich from the local public high-school to Exeter. And by holding the Exeter option over the local school board and Teacher and Principal’s unions’ head market competition to improve will take hold. Come on now. I’m waiting. OK, how about a pre-adolescent Domenican kid in Washington Heights? Would a voucher pay each year for tuition to Ethical Culture? Still waiting.

    You can’t answer in affirmative, of course because those schools cost $35K per year. So, those “choices” are off the table for even the best inner-city students. Voucher do offer some relief towards another kind of “choice,” don’t they? Altogether now…PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS, yes? And what kind of parochial schools can afford to accept children at the voucher level? Not Jewish schools or Episcopal schools or Presbyterian schools to be sure. Those religions don’t seek converts. The vochers will pay for a Catholic or Protestant school which looks for coverts.

    Vouchers are a way to transfer government money to religious organizations which back the most retrograde elements of the government, send young minds in to be molded, and crush the Teachers’ Union and Principals’ Union in the process. Are the kids safer in public school or parochial school? Well, do you want it in the belly or the back? Bullying, violence, drugs versus getting raped by “responsible” adults. Pick your poison.

    I have to hand it to you guys. You are smart and you fucking play TACKLE football. Glad I’m nowhere near you. You scare the shit out of me.

  7. K- You forgot to mention that the voucher system will inevitably lead to segregation. The cities that use vouchers have huge waiting lists, and kids in the school’s district tend to get preferential treatment. Considering most of the “good” schools are in predominately white neighborhoods, we’re headed back to the “Good old Days.”

    And you’re right about the hypocrisy of hating “bureaucracy” and “waste.” It’s a ruse. We’ve wasted almost 2 trillion on these wars, and I don’t hear “conservatives” complaining too much. Not to mention the fraud involved with tax payers eating billions. And we could mention the trillions we’ve spent on the failed “War on Drugs” as well.

    If JW were honest, he’d tell you the reason he doesn’t like public schools is mainly because they don’t teach religion.

    I don’t like them because No Childs Leaved Behind is a fucking joke. Monkeys can memorize, and that’s what they teach, memorization. They don’t teach kids how to think, problem solve, adapt, question etc.

    If you listen to employers talk about the “younger generation,” they say, “Can’t think for themselves, cannot problem solve, cannot adapt, cannot handle stress or pressure, cannot complete a task without constant guidance, and they want to be coddled and praised for everything they do.”

    In other words, they’re completely domesticated.

  8. Fairlane, you know better than that. My dislike of public school has nothing to do with religion. That’s just your “Christian conservative wingnut macro” talking again…or are you jesting.

  9. Leave Fairlane out of this and deal with me, JWN. I joined this fight. He caught a few things I missed. I’m still waiting for you to tell me how the wonderful voucher system will send every tunkele to Andover and Exeter, though?

    And why a strong Teachers’ Union is bad while a corrupt and ravenous Department Of Homeland Security is good.

    I’m kind of tired of insults. But really, don’t kid a kidder, OK? It’s doesn’t play and it just makes you seem silly and conniving at the same time.

    If you tell me that vouchers are good because they’ll get a lot of young minds into Catholic schools on the public dime while the Catholic Church is not obligated to pay taxes and some of the senior teachers and adminsitrators will have the side benefit of raping kids and tough shit if I don’t liki it, well…then, understanding power politics as I so, i’d understand your position but not like it.

    Could right-wingers just tell the truth for once? You don’t care a goddamned thing about poor kids’ educations, do you? You think you’re part of the White Power Structure and are playing chess with the poor and unfortunate. How sick. Before you go off your nut calling me a limousine liberal, please know that my son goes to PUBLIC SCHOOL. And I’ve probably lost more in the last two weeks betting hockey than you’ll ever see in your life.

    Life is not simple no matter what FoxNews says.

  10. Father K: Why are you ratcheting up your rhetoric when you should be strengthening your argument? The voucher system was working in this scenario, with government dollars going toward these private schools instead of public ones. That’s why the organizations in question got their panties in a bunch.

    Secondly, I never said the DHS was without its problems. That’s just another wingnut paint-by-numbers algorithm.

    Third, when did I ever insult you?

    Fourth, your parochial school stereotype is a generalization out of line with both the data and my views. If you have trouble with that, refer to the “paint-by-numbers” comment three paragraphs ago.

    Fifth, is just more of the same.

    And your last line….well, finally we can agree on something.

  11. JWN:

    We’re both arguing out of our asses here. I will grant you that. What is the total outlay to all of the Boards Of Education in the United States? What is the total outlay to the Office Of Homeland Security? Let’s have the figures. Then, we can argue properly.

    Please do me courtesy of answering the “Exeter” question.

    Look, this is an issue which touches me personally because I have a son in public school. Before “No Child Left Behind” and before the “business-types” who wanted to run the NYC school system “lean-and-mean-like-a-business” took over, my son’s school had such “luxuries” as chess, drama and gym. At least, he’s still getting a good education.

    A voucher is not going to pay for a NYC private school. End of story. Given that, I prefer the “bad old days” of the bloated bureaucracy where at least chess, drama and gym were considered important parts of the learning experience. From what I hear, after-school science is now on the chopping block, too.

    All to fund tax breaks to developers and improve Bloomberg’s meanness cred back when he still needed it. Urgh. I am not a limousine liberal. I believe strongly in public education.

  12. Forget New York, NCLB won’t pay for the top private schools here in Louisville.

    On a side note, where in the Hell did those flowers in the sidebar come from?

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