Want to know why commonsense K-12 reform isn't happening?
One of the most sacred cows of the "Progressive" mantra is public education. On the face of things, the government has no particular knack for educating children. What it does have is its ability to force homeowners to pay property taxes.
Here in Oakland, there's a large Catholic high school named Bishop O'Dowd. Last I checked, about 30% of its students just happen to be Jewish. Why is that? This can only be described as an unsolicited testimonial for the quality, or rather lack thereof, of the Oakland Unified School District.
Back in the 1970s, when OUSD was transitioning into a unionized monopoly, a friend who taught there refused to join the union. She was given the option of still having to pay a "bargaining agency fee." A recent Supreme Court decision, Janus v. AFSCME, made such requirements illegal...but it has since been buried somewhere along with Jimmy Hoffa.
If there is a particularly significant casualty of the COVID pandemic, it has to be government-run K–12 schools. But the teachers' unions are the real villains, and the damage has been accumulating for decades. The uncloaking caused by the pandemic brought the defects into plain view...while the unions had long since institutionalized mediocrity and political indoctrination.
There are well-run public schools, but they tend to be either suburban or in small, affluent enclaves such as Beverly Hills. Milton Friedman decried the middle-class flight to the suburbs that left the less affluent inner-city residents trapped in educational hellholes. Would it be any mystery as to why such unfortunates would be some of the strongest supporters of vouchers?
Yet the self-proclaimed "advocates" for inner-city residents oppose vouchers (AKA school choice) with every fiber of their being. Why? Because they are seriously beholden to the teachers' unions for financial support. Go figure. But, once again, the cloak has been stripped away from this farce, and vouchers are gaining in popularity across the land. Meanwhile, the National School Boards Association (a captive of the teachers' unions) is vehemently against them. Again, go figure.
I have long considered vouchers to be a realistic compromise, allowing the government to still collect the funding from the property taxpayers but allowing the parents to freely shop around. A key, though thus far missing, ingredient for the whole educational system would finally be included in the mix: competition. Not only would individual schools have to go out of their way to appeal to parents in order to enroll their children, but they'd also have to compete with each other for talented faculty.
Since the various local governments would still be collecting the money for all of this, they would also continue to have at least some influence on how things are done. Not just any school might be eligible to receive vouchers; there'd typically be some appropriate and especially visible criteria necessary for participation, depending on expressed local preferences. Also, some schools may still require additional tuition to cover the cost of the quality of education they're delivering. Currently, parents of privately schooled children are already paying property taxes on top of tuition.
I got my K–12 education before the unions took over — lucky me. Not all of the teachers were great, but quite a few of them were. There was little, if any, political indoctrination as well. In high school, there was one teacher, however, who was a strident union activist. He gave exactly the same tests every semester, and some of the students got advance copies from friends who had already taken his class. Also, he'd have the top student from the last test conduct the class...while he sat at his desk reading magazines. Just after I graduated, he got transferred to (guess what) a deep, deep inner-city school.
Explains a lot, doesn't it?
To comment, you can find the MeWe post for this article here.