Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Education vs. Democracy, and a MS Principal

The Foundation for Economics Education (FEE) is a wonderful source of insightful articles. They publish a daily email newsletter In Brief that addresses current issues with reasoned counter arguments.

Today's In Brief included the FEE Timely Classic, Education vs. Democracy by Sheldon Richman.

Two quotes from the article are worthy of reflection:

Government schools, in other words, are not the agents of parents and their children. Others besides them pay and therefore help call the tune. That inevitably turns the schools into laboratories for social engineering. No parent would want children's shoe stores run that way. It is hard to believe that's the education system parents would choose, given a free choice.

Democratic control of schools, then, necessarily usurps parents' child-raising authority. The big decisions—such as the selection of schools and curricula—are made by others. Whatever the intentions, government schools rob families of essential freedom and responsibility. From any standpoint, it cannot be good for parents to bring children into the world expecting someone else to educate them. Considering that the most critical factor in the success or failure of children's education is the family, a school system that devitalizes families would seem a particularly self-defeating institution.
And ...

Since a majority vote of school-board members decides those controversies, parents represented by members voting in the minority are effectively disfranchised. They must abide by the majority decision. Even if they take their children out of the schools, they must go on paying for a system they abhor.
The first quote is timely given the recent incident involving an Olentangy principal.[1] As a fallen people, no one is immune from such behaviors. Though, it is important to stress the fact the school employees are not experts in raising children; no one is. We are all struggling and praying that our decisions lead to happy, healthy adult children.

Though they portray themselves as experts on raising your children, administrators and staff have simply fallen for the conceit of omniscience; a malady that befalls many in public service. The person sitting across the table or desk, discussing your child, is nothing other than a neighbor or fellow resident. They do not possess any more knowledge of your child than you do. For any administrator or teacher to imply otherwise is as foolish as it is harmful.


[1] I personally pray that the ills that have grabbed the aforementioned principal are healed. And, that he can make amends where amends are due. I have great compassion for the failings of men and women. However, I have no compassion for one who is awakened daily by the desire to push nonsense into the minds of children. The principal in his current state is the man on the road to Jericho, while the staff member inculcating nonsense is the one whose dust you shake off your shoes.


Anonymous said...

From what I understand of the article, the article is saying that public education decreases the role of family in a child's life. If what I assume the author's intent in the article was, he wants all children to be educated at home by their parents until an older age. This is not possible as many parents have jobs to support these children and are not totally able to educate their children to the extent that people trained to educate can. Also, public education is also good as an experience. If children were mainly educated by their parents at home, when they went out to further their knowledge in either secondary or post-secondary education, they would be unable to function individually.

Regarding the statements on school board policy, it is not possible to specialize the educational process to include the views of every parent. It is a majority system because it is impossible to meet every single preference by parents, represented by board members. Voting in a minority is not completely futile either. By voting in a minority, the board members are showing that they disagree with this policy and maybe will have enough influence by not voting for it to change the policy in some way. In essence, this is what this blog is about. You are a minority voice in this school district. Instead of giving up because your vote has been "disfranchised." You continue to speak out for your beliefs in hope of making a change. The system set up is to make sure that all students can succeed even if the educational process isn't exactly what some parents in the district want.

Jim Fedako said...

A thoughtful post, yet the writer missed the point of the article. Democracy is a win/lose system of governance, and thus is not suited for personal matters such as education.

Those who capture the system rule. In public education, the administration and unions rule the roost. Your minority vote means nothing if your children are exposed to ills you don't want them exposed to. I hope that the writer has more sense than to simply let the power elite - the administration who actually speaks for the board - indoctrinate as they see fit.

Attend a board meeting and note where the superintendent sits. Not off to the side as a policy advisor, but right up front next to the board president.

Ask any board member a pointed question on education or school finance. Not a single one will be able to provide an informed response. They will, though, recite what the Ohio School Boards Association or the administration has told them. Other than that, they know little else.

Why? You'd have to ask them individually, but in my experience, board members perform no independent research, relying only what they are told. This is why the board debates cell phones and school names; anything tangential to education. Other than those types of subjects, the board takes the lead of the superintendent.

The district can also capture the residents by its use of carrots and sticks. The administration will claim that a levy failure means a loss of sports or transportation, or some other favored program.

They will say this even though cutting transportation does not save money as state funds are dependent on transporting students (we are in an interim period where this does not apply).

The residents cannot say, "Take less salary increases or healthcare benefits and keep the programs." Yet, this is what the consumer does in the market everyday.

Additionally, before you claim that only government can educate, consider the successes of those who were either homeschooled or graduates of private education. Teach reading is as simple as purchasing "Learn to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" from Amazon. Compare that method to the failures of public education relative to reading.

A $12 book beats the billions spent on failed reading programs.