Playing politics in education
Some points that have been missing in the discussion about public education need to be considered. We need to talk about what are real problems vs. problems made up so certain parties may break up the system instead of fixing it.
There are persons with money who back groups like Civitas that are called “think tanks” to sell their agendas. Under the guise of offering more opportunities to students outside of the public schools, they want to use public money for private schools. While this gives the private schools more money so the wealthy have to spend less, it caters to a small number of students so they may have small classes. Public schools end up with larger classes, a shortage of teachers and assistants, fewer resources and lower possibilities of improvement.
Civitas is an organization mainly sponsored by the Pope Foundation, named for the father of Art Pope. Art Pope has been a financial adviser to Gov. Pat McCrory. To add insult to injury, that think tank came up with “research” that says the new, young teachers should get the raises because they will improve the most and be most productive.
Of course, that idea doesn’t take into account that the laws of diminishing returns are a large part of education, new workers and learners. If you start at zero, it is not difficult to get to 50 percent. To get from there to 75 percent is more difficult, and each step above that is even more difficult. If you have been teaching for 10 years, your administrator most likely will not notice that you have made progress at all. Add to that the propensity for politicians to change the game plans more often than they appear at work. No wonder the morale of teachers is difficult to maintain.
The Common Core is a great example of playing politics with the educational system. One of the most important things missing in curriculum has been teaching students to think. One thing that scared politicians in Common Core was that it was to teach students that skill. Yes, it is dangerous to have them think, but thinking is the difference between an educated person and a trained monkey. What is most frightening to politicians is that educated people ask questions that put them in the middle and not at the extremes of left and right. They question the fright techniques that separate our parties today. It would be rather elitist to educate a few and relegate the rest to being sheep.
We need a discussion examining the many “think tanks” cropping up like weeds. Some may be legitimate and others nothing but propaganda machines. We need discussion on the role of government in education. Is it even qualified to run something our elected officials think is nothing but a business? Should we be electing leaders who are not willing to take serious responsibility for providing the necessary funds to operate an educational system for all students?
Question: If our education system is so poor, why are students from all over the world trying to come here to go to our schools?
Donald C. Tracy lives in Salisbury.
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