My Education is Making Me Dumberer

The Libertarian dissections have been good, and Act V is written and ready for posting tomorrow night. However, there have been quite a few discussions in the comments around Education and the state of our public school systems. I have tried to reign them in to save them for this post but I decided I needed to get to writing this before I lost control. I think this is a very important subject so I expect a lot of conversation around it. So here is the post dedicated to the public school systems in America…

To say that I am disappointed with the public school systems in America would be an understatement. That isn’t to say that there aren’t any good schools out there, but let’s be honest with each other shall we? I mean I think we have all started to get to know one another pretty well here and I wouldn’t say this to just anyone, the public school system in America is broken. Here are some of the issues that we are seeing today:

Inner city schools and low income schools don’t get the supplies or the funds to operate the same as other schools. And there doesn’t seem to be any way to get the level of education offered in the schools raised. When my wife and I were looking at schools it was amazing the disparity that exists within a single school district. Ask any parent and they can tell you what local schools are good and which ones are not. And there is no incentive to really improve.

School curriculum is ridiculous. There is no art or music in half the schools. They rarely teach budgeting or manners or civics the way they used to. Some ultra-liberal schools think 6 year olds need to learn about same sex partnerships or how to use a condom. 86% of the country is of the Christian faith but they aren’t allowed to mention the word “God”. 

And I don’t want to take a partisan twist here, but I must, at least a little bit. The ultra liberal movement in this country has invaded the system. They are so concerned about not hurting someone’s feelings that they have removed any meaningful part of school out. There are no “losers” at anything. No mention of religion (or for that matter a religious child cannot even pray silently to themselves). They are forcing the liberal agenda down the throats of children in order to indoctrinate them into the cause early. 

Parents have exactly ZERO say in what their child learns anymore. If a parent doesn’t like the school curriculum, tough. The government knows better what is right for our children than we do as parents. And I do believe that this is on purpose. It drives a wedge between parents and children so that parents will not have a say and the state will be the ones to shape children into what the state believes children should be.

There is so much more than what I have already said, but I will leave it for the comments. I will instead offer what I think the solution is: PRIVATIZATION.

That’s right schools get privatized and paid for through tuition. No school taxes. Parents pay to send their child to school. The Constitution does not give the right to public education for a reason. The free market will raise the level of education and solve the problems that we see in schools. A few examples:

Attention and Dropout Rates- Privatized schools set their own curriculum meaning that parents send their children to the school that is best for the child. If a child is a math whiz they go to a school that does that well. If they love music they go to a school that does that well. You get the drift. Kids stay interested because they are studying what they care about.

Quality of Education- Nothing says increased quality like healthy competition. Will a school let a horrible teacher teach if they know that parents have the choice to not send their child there anymore. The competition for students will cause every school to continually raise the level of education they provide. They will do so because no parent wants anything less than the best education for their child. 

There are other things that this idea solves, but again we will leave room for the comments. I know this is not the only idea out there so lets discuss them all. What ideas do you have that will improve the education system today? What are the obstacles to the current system? Why is our system not working? As parents what do you want to see happen? If it has to do with education then let’s talk about it here. I know there are a ton of parents reading my blog that have been silent thus far. This is your chance to help figure out a solution so it is time to speak up.


  1. I would add, that it isn’t just Public Schools that are the problem, the mess is spreading even to Private schools. Two of the biggest problems are standards and discipline. Schools just don’t have them anymore. You brought up the fact that schools don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings so that wrecks any chance of having standards. Can’t fail a student if they don’t know anything their self-esteem may be hurt.

    More than that tho is discipline, schools are afraid to discipline a child because parents are sue happy. Your kid is caught drinking on campus? Can’t keep them from the prom, the parents will sue because they rented little Johnny a limo and they can’t get the money back or little Suzie spent $300 on a dress. Your kid is caught smoking weed on campus? Can’t expel them from the high-end private school, the parents will sue because it will wreeck the kids chances of getting into Harvard.

    20 years ago my mother was a Librarian at a private school. A kid owed $1.94 in late fees and didn’t pay it for months. When my mother informed her she had to pay before the end of the month of face detention (which was the school rule) the kid first complained and then brought the $1.94 in all pennies, thinking that was funny. My mother, not to be outdone, thanked her for the pennies and told her to come back during recess so she could put them in rolls of $.50 for bank deposit. The girl realizing that she made a huge mistake taking on my mother (her mom, my grandmother, is a WWII Marine…don’t mess with my family) and tried to give the money in a regular amount, but my mother refused saying that the pennies were useful. The girl called her father, who then called the school to talk to my mother. He ORDERED my mother to give the pennies and the rolls to his daughter to take home and do it “under his supervision” all so his daughter wouldn’t miss recess. This is the problem in our schools, parents.

    Here’s my take on life in general, people have more power than they think they have. If government is bad it is our fault because we have the power to change it. If schools are bad…well that’s parent’s faults because they have the power to change it. I leave myself out of that equation since I have no children.

    Also the problems come not just from the left (although I think the worst problems come from them) the right is to blame as well. There is an excellent book by Diane Ravitch called the Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Kids Learn.

    I really recommend it, it will trouble you for sure but its a good look at a core problem.

    Anyway thats my take on it.

  2. I agree that the public school system needs some work. Money should be sent to all public schools based on the number of students they have, not the neighborhood they are in. But, I don’t think the curriculum is the problem. Schools are there to teach English, Math, Science and History. It is also the place where kids learn social skills and team work. Extracurricular activities are great if they can be worked in. But school is not a replacement for parenting. If you want your child to learn manners, teach them. If you want them to learn about God, take them to church. Do they want to learn piano or play basketball? Enroll them in a special class, better yet enroll with them. We can’t expect the school system to raise our kids. For those that have the means to pay for a “better” education there are plenty of private schools out there. But are you really paying for education or paying someone else to raise your kids?

  3. A man I really respect, L. Neil Smith, says public schools should all be burned, bulldozed, and salt spread on the ruins. I tend to agree.

    People say that public schools “don’t work”, but I believe those people are under a mistaken impression of what the real goal of “public education” is.

    Public schools have become our nationalized day care centers for kids, and for young people who are subjected to an artificially extended childhood. Part of that is the fault of the parents who don’t want to be bothered with taking care of the kids, part of that is the fault of the state who wants to mold young, impressionable minds into useful “citizens” before they start thinking independently.

    People claim that discipline is lacking in those schools. Maybe. I think part of the problem is a glut of nonsensical rules that cheapen any important rules by making them get lost in the heap. I mean, seriously, does it matter if your kid shows up to class with green hair? Or a piercing? This has nothing to do with learning anything but obedience to illegitimate authority. “You can’t do that because I said so!” Yet the real trouble-makers get away with it because it is easier to freak out about hair color than it is to stop a bully from beating kids up. Aggression should be stopped; other things don’t really matter. These are real examples, by the way, not hypothetical situations.

    Kids are trained to listen to authority and not question the “facts” given. They are trained to schedule their lives around the ringing of a bell. They are trained to make their bladders wait until some authority says it is OK to relieve themselves. This is useful for manufacturing cogs for corporations, but is devastating for growing responsible adults.

    The kids who strike out against this harmful system don’t even know how to stand up for themselves in a good way, but flail about self-destructively because their self-responsibility has never been allowed to grow and develop. They become nihilists who simply want to destroy, but have no clue why, or what the consequences will be. The creative ones, who are often the most irritating to the “teachers”, sometimes turn to drugs to numb the agonizing boredom. Boys, who act like boys are biologically “programmed” to act, are drugged into submission. The most compliant kids do the best and get rewarded. The message is clear.

    The schools themselves are financed by ransoming the houses of everyone around, regardless of whether they have children in the schools or not. If you own something, you should not have to pay a ransom every year to be allowed to keep your own property. This is incredibly evil.

    Private schools and home schooling fare a little better, but there is still too much state control. The state should not be allowed to set standards.

    It has been discovered that to teach a child the basics takes around 100 hours. The rest of those 12 (or more) years of school are indoctrination.

    Education is VERY important, but not every person wants, or needs, to know the same things. School destroys the love of learning that is inborn in children. Give them the skills to learn on their own, don’t kill the curiosity, and let them follow their own interests. They will be happier, and society will be richer.

    I point you again to The Alliance for the Separation of School and State and 1991 NY state teacher of the year, John Taylor Gatto.

  4. I agree that it is parents and a lawsuit happy society that is part of the problem. It affects discipline almost as much as the liberal PC attitude that has crept in. Schools have been more than happy to accomodate the parents that want to farm out the raising of their children, thus increasing their power, but the fact remains that parents are creating a demand for such a thing, which is the main issue.

    I also agree that standardization is a major part of the problem. Government must standardize by their nature. They are the purveyors of law and legal equality, they have to do things in a certain way. Education is far too important for an institution that, even if operating perfectly according to theory, would be too limited to perform well. Worse still is the idea that education, as important to a society as it is, has a government as inept and inneffective and innefficient as ours running it. And even more horrifying is that, not only is it involved in education, it is monopolizing it, making the possibility for improvement and changes through the power of the market nearly impossible.

    This is a major subject for me, I have written more extensively on it here.

  5. aylvisaker says:

    i think another big part of the problem is teachers’ unions. don’t get me wrong, i think that unions do have a valuable place in any capitalist economy. but just as a corporation can have a monopoly on the production of goods, a labor union can have a monopoly on the production of labor, and i think the teachers union has become just that. firing a teacher is next to impossible unless you do it in the first few years of employment. this means that good teachers who are new get the cut before teachers who don’t perform but have been teaching longer. and plans such as performance based pay raises are fought tooth and nail by the union every time they are brought up (even though almost every other job in the universe requires continued good performance).

    it is worth noting that the reason this has become such a problem is that the government has been steering us this way for years via standardization not only of curriculum, but of hiring and firing practices as well. and that (in my opinion of course) privatization would solve this problem (although it would probably take a decade or two given the sorry state the school system is in right now).

    i don’t mean any of this to say that union teachers are bad teachers, only that there are bad teachers out there that are protected by the union and that the teachers’ union is a particularly powerful one.

  6. Labor unions have become just as coercive to their members (or prospective members) as the state. I have worked for some bosses who were terrible and unfair, but if they got worse than I was willing to deal with, I quit. Some things are a lot more important than money.

  7. Aylvisaker,

    I believe that this is the first time I have seen you post on the site so welcome and thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

    I agree completely that the teachers union is as much to blame as anyone for the state of our education system. To begin with the teacher’s unions began a massive campaign for public support that ended up hurting the profession badly. The unions were instrumental in spreading the belief that “teachers are the most underpaid profession in America”. While in some cases that is correct (say NY, where a teacher needs a Masters degree to teach), there are others where that is completely incorrect (say NC where all you need is a 3 month certification). The campaign was a farce as teachers are currently the fourth highest paid “profession”. That is not to say teachers are not valuable and that they are not underpaid. It just isn’t as bad as the unions made it out to be. The intention was noble, get teachers more money. The result was that many smart college students bypassed teaching as an option based on the belief that there is no money to be made there.

    Beyond that little matter, the issues of firing a teacher with tenure that you mention is huge. There is a reason why teachers are turning down the offer out there right now: give up tenure and in exchange you get a salary significantly larger (over 100k a year). They are turning down a 100k a year salary in favor of tenure because of the power it yields. As is the case with most unions in America, they have put the interests of their members far above the quality of the industry, and with the vast power they have acquired, they hold industry hostage. The Teacher’s Unions have even gone on record stating that the quality of education is not their concern, only the job environment of their members. One of the largest teacher’s unions is the American Federation of Teachers. Albert Shanker, while President of the AFT, once stated, “When school children start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children”

    With 3,000,000 voting members, the teacher’s unions have more voting power than the auto worker’s unions, which boast only 700,000. I bet most people don’t realize that little stat. With that kind of voting power and a feeling that their purpose is to improve teacher salaries and contracts, is it any surprise that the schools have gotten to the point that they are?

  8. Not to mention that the teacher’s unions have rallied to lower the qualifications to be a teacher in almost every state where the teachers were failing to qualify. This wasn’t a tough test, the questions were really at about a fourth grade level, I did go and read it and could ace the test without studying. The answer was not to increase the teachers level of knowledge, it was to lower the standards required for those that will teach our children.

    I can rant all day about the teacher’s unions. They have been a driving force in the downfall of the public education system from day one.

  9. Kent,

    This is an area where I tend to agree with you. I believe that our schools have become production facilities for “acceptable citizens” This is part of the reason that I think privatization is the answer. There is no doubt that there is a value to education. Learning the staples of math, reading, critical thinking, accounting, and such is important. But it holds different levels of importance for different children. Privatizing the industry would allow schools to set their own curriculum. Parents would choose the school for their child based on the performance of the school, the schools environment, curriculum, etc. And taking government out of the picture would take away the command and control of the thought police who try to mold our children into what they would like them to be.

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