Come for the Politics, Stay for the Pathologies

Monday, December 1, 2008

Government-Education Complex: AGITPROP 101, PART 1: The Monopoly of K-12 Education

The founding fathers wisely mandated a separation of church and state. Had the constitution envisioned compulsory education (which was initially legislated by the state of Massachusetts in 1852, with other states following suit) they would have also mandated a separation of school and state. And it would have been for the same reason: dogma and absolute power do not bode well for individual rights. State control of the education system would have been anathema to the founding fathers who harbored a healthy skepticism of government. Any system controlled and delivered by the state provides an opportunity for waste, high cost and inefficiency. But an education system additionally provides a platform for propaganda. Contrary to common belief, neither the Constitution nor the Bill of Rights provides a right to education. What they are really there for is to protect the citizens from the abuse of government. (Thanks to 150+ years of public education, few students emerging from high school today know this.) In this and subsequent posts, you will see why we need this protection reinstated with respect to public “education”

At the beginning of the 21st Century we find Big Education cozily snuggled up with Big Government. By pre-taxing citizens and then providing “free” education, government manages to hold a virtual monopoly on K-12 education. In most school districts the buildings are state owned, the facilities are state managed and the teachers are state hired. While neither teachers nor customers (parents) are happy, and kids get dumber by the decade, the education lobby – comprising one of the largest special interest groups in Washington –

continues to clamor for ever more money and power to maintain the existing, failed system.

This de facto monopoly of public education (90% of all K-12 students) allows the government funded bureaucracy to control the vital aspects of education: process and agenda. As with other government endeavors, the Government-Education Complex has yielded an ineffective program costing billions of dollars that is rife with waste and inefficiency.

The process of Big-Education results in entrenched bureaucracies with extremely high administrative overhead and entrenched teachers unions that eschew meritocracy in favor of tenure. That private schools consistently deliver higher test scores for a fraction of the cost of public education is not due exclusively to the student base. Although that is the same tiresome excuse you will hear from public school administrators. And why not, they’ve been using it for years, and it consistently results in an increase in funding. Why change when you can whine?

The demand for more money to fix the problem continues unabated and is generally met by ever increasing federal, state and/or local taxes to fund the schools. As all other aspects of life grow more efficient through technology applications, schools continue to rely on union established teacher/student ratios set decades ago to churn out dumber and dumber kids.

Don’t exclusively blame the process for this miasma. The content that teachers are now required to teach emerges as a much greater concern. The basic skills of reading, writing, math and science are no longer viewed as the only – or even the most important – skills to be taught. And that’s the good news. In addition to not educating children, the public schools are actively mis-educating them. Programs and subjects that are tantamount to propaganda take up a disproportionate share of the education process. The bad news is that not only can Johnny not read, Johnny can’t even think.

Teacher’s time and school hours are spent on social engineering designed to mold future citizens to the ideals of a society determined not by parents, but enlightened administrators. And make no mistake about who’s in charge: in 2007 a Massachusetts US district Judge ruled unequivocally that

"The constitutional right of parents to raise their children does not include the right to restrict what a public school may teach their children…Under the Constitution public schools are entitled to teach anything that is reasonably related to the goals of preparing students to become engaged and productive citizens in our democracy."

(see complete article here:)

No, the state run school district administrators determine what your children are required to learn in state mandated education. To be clear, the curriculum for your children is set (largely) by state-educated, state-compensated bureaucrats who are motivated to pass on the type of thinking that will perpetuate the education/state partnership. In short, a monopoly that’s in a position to perpetuate itself through its very charter: education. And what they decide to teach your children ought to keep you up at night.

Watch for the next installment of Big Education, Curricula and Social Engineering coming soon.