The following is the first part of a multi-day blog outlining the various lies the American public is told about the public, private, and parochial schools in our country.
Definition: The Greek word for education is “edukos” which means “to draw forth from within.” Think about that as you look at what your child is taught each day.
As I was watching an interview with a local Superintendent of Schools the other day, this quote struck me. She said, “The education system in this country was created by White men for White men.” As I said in my previous blog post, this is a lie. ( see previous post).
But it’s not the only lie they tell you about education in the United States. There are many, many more. So many more that I probably can’t cover them all in one, or two, or ten blog posts. These lies are, to use the Marxist term, “systemic.” And when I say systemic, I mean actually systemic, not just created by some political activist in order to raise money.
The systemic lies told about education in this country are so ingrained, so permanent, that you could probably engrave them on the wall of every Board of Education, State Department of Education, and the U.S. Department of Education. You could use the space where they used to have the ten commandments or the Constitution.
And they are voiced by a large and diverse group of people who make a living off these lies. Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, Democrat, Republican, Teachers’ Unions, Social Justice organizations, anarchists, religious groups, media outlets, local, state, national government officials of every county, district and state in the union, I could go on and on. No matter what you have been led to believe about the U.S. Educational system, it is probably a lie.
I know. I participated in the lie, and probably consciously or unconsciously, repeated it and used it as a defense of the schools. So, when I go through these lies one by one, please understand that I come from a place of seeing them first hand. Please understand that I value education and how it can help people improve their situation in life, but I also understand that it can be used as a weapon to create citizens who are indoctrinated into ideas that will do extreme harm to them and others.
I will share the lies in no particular order, as the importance of one of them is no more than any of the others. You can decide which ones you think you have been impacted the most by.
First Lie: Schools in this country are underfunded. This is a particularly useful lie for the education system in this country and the unions. They convince people that the problem with public schools is due to funding. If we would just pay more, spend more, our schools would do much better. The liars will tell you that we don’t spend a large enough portion of our federal, state, and local dollars on the education of our children.
The ineffectiveness of the education system is like every other ongoing problem that government creates and then attempts to use as a method to get more money from the American taxpayer. If the goal was to actually solve the problem, it could have been solved by now. But, too many people will lose access to the cash cow if that happens, so the problem perpetuates.
It’s important to note that federal dollars were never intended to provide funding for public schools. That was delegated to state and local governments. But, with the creation of the U.S. Department of Education in the 70’s, federal funding came with it. Federal funds currently make up about 8% or $752.3 (2019) billion of public school funding. (1) With that money, there are always multiple strings attached by whichever political party is in power. It’s a method of coercion from the feds as they demand that locals follow federal directives in order to get the cash. Everything from mask mandates, discipline procedures, and, of course, content taught is suddenly controlled from D.C.
School systems that were supposed to be run and controlled by local communities are being controlled more and more by bureaucrats in D.C.
Let’s take a closer look at what the states provide in school funding. I’ll use Maryland since it is where I live. In the school year 2017-2018, state revenues for public elementary and secondary schools as a percentage of total public school revenues were 42%. So, federal and state funding together comprises approximately 50% of school revenues. This leaves the locals to provide an additional 50%. In Maryland, locals have little or no choice about how little or how much funding they will provide public schools. They are mandated to provide “maintenance of effort” funding which is a law that takes the decision making about school funding out of the hands of local officials. They MUST provide funding at least the same level as current or prior years or lose federal funding. This basically forces education funding to increase each year which can also cause an increase of the taxes paid by the citizens of that community.
Twenty-five percent of the funding in Maryland is from property taxes. The rest comes from additional sources, i.e. income taxes.
So, what does this all mean in REAL numbers. In our county, that local funding amounts to approximately 60 MILLION dollars. This is for a system of seven schools and roughly 4000 students. This amount does not include any federal funding or grants. Nor does it include the massive infusion of money based on Covid 19 relief.
And yet, if you listen to the Board President, in reference to the county council cutting 3 million cut from the original ask, “These requests were based on their most basic needs. ( referencing those from principals, teachers, etc.)”We have accepted this budget in hopes that in the future we can better provide for the growth and development of all of our students and staff.” Notice that she used the word “accepted.” The use of that word implies that she was insulted that the county council didn’t give them everything they wanted. How dare they.
By the way, per pupil expenditures range in each school in Talbot from approximately $12,000 to almost $16,000. And, again, that is only certain expenses ( teacher salaries, materials, etc.) and doesn’t include any grants or federal funding.
But it is never enough. Why is that?
There are probably a variety of reasons, most of which revolve around staff salaries and insurance costs. Teachers, like most employees, always want to be paid more. But, it also reflects a desire for more middle level staff in central office and also the so called “unfunded” mandates imposed by the state and federal governments. These mandates are more about politicians looking good and not actually making schools better. These mandates are probably why funds are wasted on staff training initiatives in diversity training ( in our system over a half million in seven years) and other topics that don’t ever seem to solve any of the problems they are intended to solve. Let’s face it. They don’t want those problems solved. But they do love giving them lip service. Expensive lip service.
If, in seven years, you have not improved the way your employees teach diverse student populations, you’re doing it wrong.
And never, ever discount the greedy nature of the Teachers’ Unions and their ties to the ruling government elites. While they cry about the plight of the lowly, underpaid teachers, the officers of the unions collect big salaries and are money laundering operations for politicians of every station and party. That’s why you see Biden and his DOJ bending over backwards to proclaim parents as Domestic Terrorists. ( Later on this week I will share the salaries of the Union hierarchy. You will be shocked.)
So, what is the return on investment for all this funding? Read on.
Lie Number Two-Schools are Doing a Great Job Educating our Kids: Well, not exactly. Let’s approach this from two vantage points.
World Rankings: When the Program for International Student Assessment was given by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development in 2018, the U.S. placed 11th out of 79 countries in science. It did worse in math, ranking 30th. Countries such as Singapore, Macao, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan were in the top five in math. Singapore, Macao, Estonia, Japan and Finland were in the top in science.
These low rankings mean that U.S. students are at a definite disadvantage when in competition with international students for high paying computer and engineering jobs.
State testing (which has been in place in Maryland since the 90’s) shows that student scores in the areas of English/Language Arts (41.2% proficient in 2019), Mathematics ( 42.5% proficient in 2019), and Science (29.1% proficient in 2019) have not substantially improved since 2015. In Science, scores have actually declined. Again, the excuse is always funding, funding, funding. If the schools were given more money, these results would be better. Nevermind the fact that as the amount of money given to schools increases exponentially, the results decline in almost direct proportion.
Anecdotally, both educators and parents tell us how their children do not have the basic skills they will need to be successful, functioning adults. If you look at school system courses of study, you’ll see why. The basic content necessities have been shoved aside so teachers can conduct social justice and social emotional lessons. Not exactly teaching kids how to think critically, but more like teaching them to think along “government” lines, how to feel better while you aren’t learning.
Classroom time is often interupted for the “cause du jour” activity, promoted by some political official wishing to make his/her reputation by addressing an issue that is being pushed by the mainstream media. Ask any teacher about how much instructional time is lost to this nonsense each year, and you may be surprised.In the past it was “attitude surveys” about smoking, alcohol and drug use, etc. This year, it is a constant drum beat of “counseling” kids regarding their feelings, anger, etc. After all, there are millions of dollars in grants from the government provided for more counseling so, by heaven, they must find a way to give more counseling.
Frankly, if they hadn’t closed the schools and masked the kids while scaring them to death about a disease that has a survival rate above 95%, children might not have needed counseling. If they hadn’t forced kids to see each other as oppressors or suppressed, they might not have needed counseling. Again, they broke it and want you to pay to fix it.
But remember, fixing the broken system is not something they really want. There’s no money in that.
One of the practices impacting student achievement is “teaching to the middle.” Teachers do this as a matter of survival in classes that have an educational range from students who have yet to master skills required in grades one to two years lower, those who are right on track, and those who are advanced. The latter must be mercilessly held back or given busy work to keep doing something while the rest of the class catches up. Those at the bottom are dragged along, never really achieving but being given social promotion to the next grade, falling further and further behind each year.
Educational administrators claim this could be avoided if class sizes were smaller. Therefore, once again the schools need more money. This is not true. While smaller classes might be nice, it’s no easier to teach five different academic levels of students in a class or 20 than in a class of 30.
I don’t blame teachers for this. Regardless of how the one room school houses of the past fared, this mix of achievement levels is a recipe for failure. Very few teachers, regardless of their skill, can teach multiple academic levels at one time effectively. When you ask them to teach more at more levels in less time and include the growing menus of what certain groups of children can and cannot be expected to do because of their subgroup status, you have guaranteed they can’t do the most important job of all, teach fundamental skills.
What’s the solution? Stop making schools the dumping ground for every feel good, useless, politically motivated cause, lesson, etc. Get the focus of schools back where it belongs, on academics, on learning, on REAL critical thinking. Give teachers REAL options, strategies, in teaching CHILDREN, not racist subgroup stereotypes created to excuse failure.
And this is just the start, because there are other lies about schools we must address to make real improvement.
And that’s for other installments of this blog.