Parents send their children to public schools throughout the United States, to school districts funded by taxation. Most of the tax revenue comes through property and income taxes, which are funded through a combination of local tax levies, as well as state and federal tax dollars. Public school districts are governed by local school boards, state school boards, combined with various state and federal regulations.
Socialism, defined on Wikipedia, “is a social and economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and co-operative management of the economy.” That seems to summarize our primary education system. Public education in America is socialism. It is owned and cooperatively managed by the public. Yes, there is school choice, but most parents have to enter “lotteries” in order to apply for taxpayer funds so that their kids have the privilege of being able to go to an alternative school.
It is interesting that tea party members will attack Obama-care relentlessly as a socialist system that brings about mediocrity and failure, and also blame Common Core for all of the problems in our education system because they are concerned that it will become centralized. However, they rarely (if ever) bring up the fact that our public education system is already a socialist system. and has been a socialist system since the founding of our country. While one room school houses (which were also used in many cases as houses of worship) worked well 100 years ago when most students graduated by the 7th grade, the same system does not work well today.
Before tea party members start yelling at their screens, let me give you another reason to scream… teachers unions. Teachers unions are an outgrowth of our socialistic education system. Over 40 years ago, public school teachers felt like their ideas were not being listened to, that their pay was inadequate, and that classroom sizes were not appropriate; so they unionized against the bureaucratic machine known as our public education system.
One could argue that things improved temporarily, but their own unions became bureaucratic and they started to take the place of school boards and school management. Unions managed to negotiate everything from standardizing their pay and benefits, to school sizes, school hours, the number of teacher workdays and even the time and place of breaks. I’m not blaming the teachers unions or the local school boards who are bound to the contracts, because if they don’t they will end up with strikes and an arbitrator will rule against them. These issues all stemmed from the fact that we have a socialist education system in the first place.
Whether it is here in Ohio, or in other states such as Texas, the education system is predominantly controlled by government planning. It has to be. It is owned by we the public. Governors like Mike Huckabee (who is now being criticized for Common Core) tried to deal with the existing socialist education system by placing a minimum floor for standards, Common Core, which was designed to raise standards and hold teachers unions accountable. People like Billionaire Bill Gates, who is now being called a corporatist, wanted to improve our system because he could not find any qualified Americans to employ at Microsoft.
Without Common Core in place, public schools still have high drop out rates, there are high remediation rates for kids going to college, and student tests are dumbed down. Huckabee, along with most governors, saw a system failing our students, which was controlled by teachers unions and government bureaucracy. How else can the use of our tax dollars be measured and people held accountable if we do not have a system of checks and balances? How can you measure the performance of our students and teachers if there isn’t a standardized set of tests and curriculum? How do you stretch tax dollars and make them more efficient in a socialist system? Central planning here we come.
So how do we improve our education system so students learn the basics, and learn how to think? The only long-run solution is to move to a more privatized system. We must move to a system where the tax dollars follow the student to whichever school they choose. We do this through scholarships and Pell Grants for college students, why not primary education? A system where the parents and students have the ultimate say, not state and federal legislators, not unions, not government bureaucrats. In a free market system parents and students are free to go where the product and results are better. Common core and standardized tests under such a system will not be necessary, because the schools that fail will go out of business. Government will not be there to prop them up with more tax dollars and increased regulations. Successful schools will thrive. The free-market system works for cars, furniture, housing, restaurants, and to a lesser degree higher education, so why can’t it work for our primary education system?
We need to do something that was done about 25 years ago in the former Soviet Union and eastern bloc: sell off the existing buildings, equipment and real estate to those in the private sector. The private sector includes our existing teachers, superintendents, management and everyday taxpayers. It will not be an easy transition and it will take open-minded people who want successful students, not those who want to fight turf wars and a hanging on of a failed system. Society should at least start with some of the worst school systems. Bust up the education monopolies and do not settle for the lowest common denominator. Privatize everything and the results will speak for themselves.
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