March 12, 2011
The obnoxious and disruptive conduct of public employee unions shows how bad labor unions in general have been for America. Republicans, if they are wise governors of states and brave political warriors, will defang organized labor by passing right-to-work laws in all six of the states in which Republicans now have the muscle to do so -- Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Maine.
Unions are a huge drag on our economy and a major cause for the flight of good jobs out of our nation. More repulsive is the fact that the teacher-goons in Wisconsin who spew hate in Madison have been entrusted with the education of our children. Is there harm in these creepy folks striking? Actually, there may be more harm in them returning to work.
Is there any alternative to this totalitarian, soul-destroying apparatus of leftist-controlled public education? Sure: privatize education. Create systems of competing and overlapping education by letting out contracts to private vendors to teach our children. Allow these vendors to be as creative and informal as they wish. Education should evolve as technology and society evolves. Create performance criteria for these contracts which focus on how well students do on standardized tests and, just as importantly, how these students improve their test scores. The bugaboo among the anti-vouchers crowd has been the use of vouchers for religious schools. Fine: require that these vendors be as secular as public schools are now.
We have created a gargantuan image of school which includes vast buildings, huge bureaucracies, endless rules, political correctness, genuflections to professional associations -- and all for what? Schools were intended to give our children the core skills necessary to continue learning. That involves little, really: reading comprehension, writing skills, and a general grasp of the basics of science, math, and history. The instillation of moral and social values should be the province of families, faith, and neighborhoods. The sports, social, and recreational activities which schools now provide could come more easily through private organizations.
Is there anything we require of the empire of public schools which could not be done more easily, more cheaply, more quickly, and more cleanly by private vendors in a community? What would happen if we privatized education? Any plan should include several competing vendors in a particular area. Have more than one educational system in a town or community. Let people, by their vouchers, choose which one works best. This may well mean "which one works best for me." This approach would take away the "one size fits all" approach to public education and let students learn where they learn best.
Public schools could remain, but the tax dollars these schools get would have to be dependent upon the schools' actual popularity among students and parents. How would teachers "organize"? They wouldn't! In fact, many of the private vendors might involve a partnership of several experienced educators who together run the school and share the profits of their enterprise. The whole vast, corpulent mass of public school administrators would be thrown into competition for scarce public school resources with the teachers who, right now, have every interest in supporting "more money for education" as a reflexive battle cry.
The entire education system would be compelled to become market-oriented, results-oriented, and focused on an economy of effort. Schools would cease to be the center of social life, to be replaced by churches, synagogues, scout troops, sports clubs, and all of these other natural outlets for young minds and bodies which now must compete with the huge treasury and compulsory attendance of public schools.
The left cannot utter the talismanic word "diversity" often enough to satisfy themselves. Well, this would create a wonderful, true, and balanced flourishing of diversity in the lives of those inmates of schools. Look again at the ugliness, the meanness, the narrowness of those anointed to teach young America. Will there be hope for us when this savaged generation of reeducated drones takes over?
Forget for a just a moment the bankrupting cost of public education. The greatest cost of the public education system is the public education system itself.
Bruce Walker is the author of Poor Lenin's Almanac: Perverse Leftist Proverbs for Modern Life.