I once heard a story from an acquaintance about an unnamed pizza joint that he worked at for a while. There was a customer who would call in and order a pizza during their sale night every week. Every week she would take delivery then call back in to complain about it being too dry or undercooked or burned or too soggy or something, and every time she would demand a replacement. Sometimes she did this several times a night. Finally, the manager of the pizza shop had enough. She had the employees gather around this customer’s pizza and every one spat into it. When the customer took delivery of the pizza she phoned in again, this time to rave about how delicious it was!
I don’t think anyone who worked there ever told her they had all hocked loogies into the pizza she loved.
The schools being a government monopoly program with unionized teachers who hold a defacto monopoly on K-12 education in the United States, it has finally been noted that they are working out about as well as monopolies usually work out. In other words, public education stinks for its consumers. Prices are high, service is hostile and incompetent, and legal and educational fads have driven out good, traditional teaching. Students don’t learn history, science, civics, or even the most basic subjects such as arithmetic and reading. They don’t know that God is good and the devil is evil. But they know that carbs and sex are good and meat and tobacco are evil. They know that their parents are wrong about just about everything and that teachers, and the Democratic Party that feeds at the trough of their union dues, are right. They know that government is good and corporations are evil, and that individuals are to be sacrificed when groups are offended. High School students know how to put a condom on a banana and get an abortion, but they have never read the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights. Something is very wrong. Schools have lost their way. They no longer teach students by means appropriate to their age. And they no longer train students civic virtues to help them grow up to be better American citizens.
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is a program of admirable intentions. Its intent was to test what students actually learned and use the results of the test to grade the schools. With NCLB the schools are faced with accountability for their decades of drift away from a beneficial educational mission into ideological advocacy for a socialist revolution. If their students don’t pass the test with the right grades the students can get public school money and take it away to another school.
Imagine for a moment that you are a teachers’ union. Your goal is to maintain the level of dues that are coming in. You don’t want any of your members to lose their jobs or get demoted from NCLB, because then their dues might stop coming in. You don’t want any jobs to be taken away. And being a fair-minded sort, you don’t want some of your members benefiting from NCLB to the detriment of others. If you can perfectly control your members, you have them teach just well enough to pass the test without teaching so well that they make other members look bad. How can this be done? The best way to do it, rather than to encourage teachers to teach the subjects so well that the students have an abundance of knowledge and ace the tests, is to have all the teachers teach to the tests. Instead of reading literature in class or for homework, have the students read dozens of sample test questions and answer them every day. Instead of filling the students’ heads up with math knowledge, teach them fuzzy math and repeat the sorts of test questions they will face in their next high stakes test. The students will not learn anything useful but they will just barely pass the test. No teacher will fail and no teacher will excel. The public schools will maintain their head counts. It is in your ability to do this as a union, because the people who decide on the curriculum are usually union members.
The result is that while test scores are acceptable, learning has gone down. And is this the fault of the test, or is it the fault of the union monopoly and its behavior?
The government/union monopoly has hocked a loogie in the pizza of every single parent of a child under the instructional care of a teacher in the union. But because most parents don’t have anything to compare to this NCLB centered education, they don’t know what the monopoly has done to them and their children. They see that their school is a blue ribbon school with a five star rating and think that’s good. What it means is that the school taught to the test. Because if the school taught hard subjects then some children would fail the NCLB test. Some children would do even better but they are the ones who pass in any case. And that combination would bring the NCLB score down.
What is the answer? For now, the best answer appears to be homeschooling.
For the future, can NCLB be fixed if the behavior of the government/union monopoly is so anti-competitive and downright perverse? It does not make sense to trust the monopolists if NCLB is removed. What is to stop them from teaching nothing at all? It isn’t a big step from what they are teaching now. I think the answer is to weaken the government/union monopoly as much as possible with education vouchers that can be used for any accredited school, coupled with a repair of the accreditation process that incorporates the realization that education degrees are second rate degrees and other degrees should be preferred for teachers, or indeed, for anything.
Will this upset the colleges of education? I certainly hope so! Let those cesspools rot and fade away for lack of new victims to be indoctrinated.
Is NCLB the problem? Not really. It’s more like the light that illuminates a thousand roaches in the middle of the kitchen floor.
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