The Future of Public School – 51% of Students in Poverty.

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The Public Schools are completely falling apart. In my opinion, they are utterly doomed. I have discussed this before.

Recent data coming to light does not paint a healthy picture for the future of Public Schooling in America. In the Washington Post, we read:

For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation.

The Southern Education Foundation reports that 51 percent of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in the 2012-2013 school year were eligible for the federal program that provides free and reduced-price lunches. The lunch program is a rough proxy for poverty, but the explosion in the number of needy children in the nation’s public classrooms is a recent phenomenon that has been gaining attention among educators, public officials and researchers.

The shift to a majority-poor student population means that in public schools, a growing number of children start kindergarten already trailing their more privileged peers and rarely, if ever, catch up. They are less likely to have support at home, are less frequently exposed to enriching activities outside of school, and are more likely to drop out and never attend college.

I have long maintained that the Public Schools are the temples of the only state-sanctioned church in America: The Church of the US Government. Now, with the unveiling of this data, we can see what else Public Schools have become: free day care and an equivalency to Juvenile Detention Centers. This is most especially true for public schools in the inner-city ghettos, in which no actual learning has gone on for decades; but I believe the paradigm is spreading to the suburbs.

For parents who see the writing on the wall, the response is going to be clear: pull your kid from public school. I really do not think that public schools are going to improve. I think that public schools are going to worsen regardless of anything the Department of Education tries (short of upheaving the entire system.) I cannot imagine anything they could do to reverse this.

The immediate reply from most people would be, “They need more funding!” When I hear people say this, I consider it true insanity. For 50 years, this has been the rallying cry of the pro-Public School crowd. For 50 years, they have gotten their wish: Public School funding increases nearly every year. Yet somehow, public schools get worse and worse. Data shows this. But we don’t even need data to know it; we all know it, somehow. We all know, from our own experiences, that public school ain’t what it used to be, in spite of much higher funding levels. Examine the chart below to see what I mean.

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Clearly, there is not a direct correlation between funding and results. This is the grievous truth of government spending that politicians and bureaucrats are desperate to keep out of the limelight: higher spending does not always correlate directly to better results.

Zany educational schemes like Common Core are exacerbating the deterioration. Even many staunch liberals are opposing the Common Core educational program, for that reason. This is what separates the well-meaning liberals from the sinister liberals, in my opinion. Well-meaning liberals are at least genuinely concerned about the well-being of the children. These liberals oppose Common Core because they recognize it for what it is: a pathetic attempt at social engineering that sacrifices good students to subsidize the bad students. It is a program designed to prevent parents from being involved in the educational process by completely changing how educational concepts are taught. In this way, kids with parents who don’t give a damn are supposedly not handicapped in comparison to kids with parents who do give a damn.

Check out some of these materials from Common Core. They are bizarre, to say the least, and downright confounding in certain cases. Imagine if your kid asked for help with this; very few parents could play along. Most of us would have to brush aside this silliness and teach them techniques that we learned at school back in the day. But the very next morning, you send your kid back to school and the teacher tells them they’ve got it all wrong. Whammo-blammo. Just like that, you’ve been cut out of the loop.

For the liberals with sinister intent, this is whole point. Their entire motive in pushing Common Core is to prevent parents from becoming too involved in the educational process. The grand dream of sinister liberals is to utterly separate children from family traditions and parental instruction, so that children instead are entirely at the mercy of the State for the molding of their future; programs like Common Core are a step towards that goal. Ever since the early days of socialism in mid-1800’s Europe, the far-left has adamantly demanded control over children for the purposes of drilling propaganda into their brains, free from the interference of pesky parents who may disagree with their agenda.

Unfortunately for the sinister liberals, Common Core will go the way of Bush’s “More Children Left Behind” program; that is, it will be a huge disaster. All Common Core will achieve is the complete dumbing-down of an entire generation of public school students. They will not be the vanguard of a new socially-just utopia; they’ll merely be the unlucky subjects of a rotten experiment that damages their future. These students are going to be sacrificed at the altar of State Education. During this process, parents who care enough will want to pull their children from the rotting miasma of the public school system. Many middle-class families are already unhappy with public schools, but send their children out of necessity because they do not have the money for a private institution nor the time to teach their children at home. Upper-middle class families generally avoid public schools as well, an emphasis that will only increase in the coming years. Upper-class families already do not send their children to public school.

In my opinon, it is clear where the future of education lies: online.

Low-cost education alternatives, such as the Khan Academy and Ron Paul Curriculum, are changing the game. Many parents would like to homeschool their children, but cannot do so due to time and money constraints. In the past, this was a nigh-insurmountable problem. With the rise of the Internet, both time and money constraints have been significantly curtailed. The Khan Academy, for instance, is free. It is self-contained. It covers all the educational bases. It is as easy as pressing “play”. Parents do not have to hover over their children 24-7 for them to receive high-quality home education. They don’t have to meticulously craft lesson plans and design tests or assignments. They come packed in with the curriculum.

This does not have to remain a paradigm for homeschooling in the strictly classical sense, either. I can easily envision parents in a local area bringing their kids together in a homeschooling co-op with the curriculum almost entirely in the form of online instruction, with “teachers” present merely to keep the kids in line and provide additional instruction for students who need it. This setup does not need to be expensive. It is time-efficient for parents. It puts the educational reins back in the hands of parents who are dissatisfied with social engineering schemes from the liberal-dominated Department of Education. If I had kids, this is the sort of arrangement I would love to place them in.

The point is this: state education is no longer a near-monopoly. Private schools have always been too expensive to provide serious competition. Charter schools have always been too far and few in between to provide serious competition. With the rise of online education, serious competition is now arriving on the scene. The monopoly is cracking.

Competition is good. Striving to better satisfy customers is a positive thing. Currently, a lot of people are not satisfied with state education, but the State doesn’t care; the introduction of wildly unpopular programs like Common Core is evidence of this. The Education Bureaucracy is effectively saying, “Screw off. We own your kid. We’re gonna teach them what we want. And you’re gonna pay for it. Got it? Get out your wallet, sucker.” *Cocks gun*

Online schooling is not based on forcing citizens to cough up cash. It is based on competition. It is based on customer choice and satisfaction. It is based on mutual, voluntary agreement, with parents being given the final say. The Khan Academy and other online curricula are ready to compete at the margin for customers.

In the coming years, public schools are going to further deteriorate. They are going to become more closely identified with Juvenile Detention Centers than actual schools. Parents of any economic class who fear for their child’s future are going to be desperate for alternatives. The online alternatives are there, available even to lower-class families. They are inexpensive and time-efficient. They do not force children to sit in the same classrooms as delinquents who have no desire to learn, and whose parents don’t give a damn about what goes on at school.

If you read my articles often, you know I look extremely unfavorably on state education. Some people might surmise that I also hate public school teachers. Listen up: I hate the system, not the teachers. I had teachers in public school that I really liked and who were great at their jobs. By that same token, I had some teachers who really should’ve been polishing bowling balls for a living instead. Like any other career, some people are great and really care about their jobs, while some others merely collect a paycheck.

If you haven’t seen the 1988 HBO film “Stand and Deliver”, you should. The movie is a magnificent biographical drama chronicling the true story of Jaime Escalante, a public school teacher with a fiery passion for education and excellence. As a poor Bolivian immigrant with a background in teaching, he found a low-paying job as a mathematics teacher for Garfield High in LA. When he first got the job in 1974, the school was considered one of the worst in the state. By the time he left in 1991, it was the #3 school in the nation for student enrollment in AP classes, with over 600 students enrolled. For the whole story of what happened, see the movie. But know this: his worth as a teacher weighed more than practically all of the other teachers at Garfield combined.

Jaime Escalante was a truly remarkable individual. Unfortunately, this had a predictable effect on the other teachers at Garfield: they resented him. They envied him. Escalante had fire in his belly; most of the other teachers did not. Firing him would’ve been unthinkable; he was a celebrity after the movie was released. So a coalition of teachers and administrators instead began an informal campaign of hostility, anonymous hate mail, and even threats, to force him to quit. According to Escalante, the other teachers and the school administrators became so unbearable and difficult to work with that he did indeed quit out of frustration. What happened next was also predictable; the educational excellence of the school completely evaporated. By 1996, the number of students graduating from AP courses fell to 7, down from 81 in Escalante’s final year at Garfield. The school has never recovered. Some individuals actually tried to carry on Escalante’s torch after he quit, but they too became the targets of furious envy and informal pressure to quit, which they did. The high-performing and stellar teachers were chased out in favor of mediocre paycheck-collectors who wanted the bar to be brought down to their level.

Escalante’s story proved two things: First, that a single person with fire in their belly can change the lives of innumerable others. Second, that time-serving paycheck collectors who fear competition will do anything to eliminate pressure and make their own employment more comfortable, even if it means sacrificing a stellar paradigm in favor of a mediocre one. This is surely what happened at Garfield High. I think this has happened at far more schools than just Garfield High.

The great teachers out there who have fire in their belly for education are always going to have opportunities, like members of any other career field with fire in their belly. Private schools and charter schools will always be around. Private tutors will always be able to find work for upper-class families. The budding online curriculum business, which I think is going to see a lot of growth, is going to need effective educators to produce videos and materials. There will continue to be some public schools that avoid complete decay as well, mostly in upper-class neighborhoods farther away from the cities. But competition for teaching positions in these schools is going to unbelievably fierce. Only the teachers who show a lot of hustle or have connections will be able to snag these jobs.

On the flip side, the teachers who are interested in little more than checking boxes and collecting a paycheck are going to face a lot of problems in the coming years. These teachers will not be able to compete with the teachers who are on-fire for education. They will not be able to snag the quality jobs. They will be forced to accept employment within the less-than-stellar public schools. These jobs will not necessarily be scarce, but I think the quality of this employment is going to become far worse. Student populations are going to become more unruly, delinquent, and less interested in education. Parents of students are going to become more difficult to work with and less interested in their child’s education. At some point, I think the pay is also going to begin diminishing significantly, especially when compared to how difficult the job and the workload will become. This sounds like a disastrous situation: teachers who don’t want to be there, teaching students who don’t want to be there, with parents who don’t care about what’s going on as long as they aren’t getting calls from the police. If I were a teacher who did not think I could compete for the better jobs, I would seriously consider a change of occupation. That doesn’t sound a like a situation I want to deal with.

The State has long held an iron grip over education in the United States. But education is starting to slip out of their grasp. Families who want the best for their children are going to do what it takes to jump ship when the decay in their local public schools becomes evident. In this day and age, jumping ship from the educational leviathan is more affordable and effective than ever before. Even poor parents in the ghetto and in the redneck boonies now have effective options available. Poor parents who care will indeed make it work, and their children will be immeasurably better off for it. Let freedom ring.

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