Public education in America has encountered many challenges, particularly in the last three decades. Declining test scores, declining graduation rates, poor results for high school graduates once entering college unprepared, and the clear lack of life-long learning skills are just symptoms of the underlying problems and issues with K-12 education.
The decline of direct parental involvement, poor university education school preparation for teachers, misdirected and inconsistent standardized testing efforts, and the lack of any teacher testing and annual monitoring of teacher progress have all contributed to the problems in public education, and alarming lack of results and preparation of our children. However, underlying the symptoms and the causes that I have cited is the compromising of the true mission and goals we all expect to be unwavering. That is to say, those given the sacred responsibility of educating our students have compromised the very mission of education, and the achievement of the goals and objectives that we have counted upon to be the foundation of our future and our children’s future. This is not an accusation, a supposition, or an opinion. This is a fact. I have seen it and documented it first hand in my own state, and have verified similar encounters and compromises by the educational elite, administrators, and most directly the two largest teacher unions in the United States. It is at a minimum, appalling, and potentially criminal.
What I am attempting to describe are the political compromises made by the teacher unions, with complicity by some administrators and ratification by local school boards, reducing the quality of education and the integrity of the teaching experience, solely for the benefit of power and money. The recipients of the increased power, funding, and funds into their own coffers to be utilized for purposes other than education, are the national teacher unions, their respective state affiliates, and their colleagues.
When union domination, and the marginalization of parents occur, our children are the losers. They are no longer the priority. They are no longer the most important participants in the educational experience as they should be, and must be, if we’re to achieve those lofty goals, and make our children the best prepared in the world. No matter what changes we make to public education, no matter how we improve standardized testing, measuring results, educating and preparing our teachers, and funding education, if we don’t take the politics out of education, and the implementation of good education policy in our government, we are doomed to fail. Yes, unions have a right to exist, and yes our teachers should be treated well, and be paid well. However, with regard to public education, we’re not talking about a typical working environment. The priority must be the students, or the proposition of public education on its’ very face, is false. Why do many private schools, parochial schools, and most “home-schoolers” often do significantly better than their public school counterparts, with much less funding? Their encouragement of parental involvement in education policy, and their children’s day-to-day education experience, as well as the absence of political pressure being exacted by the teacher unions, is a major factor.
Having direct, first hand knowledge of the referenced compromises and tactics by the education elite and teacher unions, I have seen how the entire political agenda has permeated the legislative process at the state and national levels. As Education Policy Chairman in my State’s Legislature, I have had to deal with these political pressures, and have seen how the masterful agenda on the part of the education elite and the unions have affected my colleagues, and their ability to resist the enormous pressure brought to bear on them, and their respective school districts. The compromise of our children’s future has permeated the legislative process through lobbying efforts, the recruitment of pro-union candidates, and sheer intimidation. My assessment is that it will continue until it can’t be fixed. Then a collapse of public education, as we know it, will occur, and something will have to take its’ place. Meanwhile, our children have lost their future, and our nation may never regain its position as a superpower, and the leader of the free world.
Yes, this is serious business. I firmly believe that if we wait until the alarming collapse that I have cited, America will have lost its’ future. This is a time for a loud call to common sense, our founding values, and the premise that the self-serving educational elite cannot be permitted to compromise our children’s education and their very future anymore. It must stop. As the new “Tea Party” movement has awakened the silent majority from their political and policy indifference of the past, a new movement must rise up out of the ashes of our disastrous math and science test scores, falling graduation rates, and politically-correct social transformational education experience. The basics underpinning our traditional education system including academic excellence, parental involvement and support, discipline, and clear consistent standardized testing and evaluation, must be restored.
Public education must clearly adapt to a global environment, and the teaching methodology must adapt to the times and current technologies. However, we must turn out a new type of teacher that can teach to ALL students. The actual pedagogy deployed must be based on the premise that students learn at different rates, have different backgrounds, and actually think differently. However, to be consistent with the goals and objectives that I noted earlier, the sacred mission-to-educate, we must find a way to deliver a quality education to every single student and to discard the premise that some students can learn, and some cannot. We owe it to ourselves, to them, and most importantly, we owe it to future generations of Americans, and to assure that America continues as the leader of the free world.
Mr. Palmer, a life-long entrepreneur, owner of diverse business interests, strategic planner, real estate developer, market & economic feasibility authority, and technology & real estate financier, is the founder of the Amerivest Group.