ABC's 20/20: "STUPID IN AMERICA"
By Lynn Stuter
January 17, 2006
On January 13, 2006 — Friday the 13th if that’s a sign one way or another — ABC’s 20/20 with John Stossel aired “Stupid in America” concerning the state of education in America today.
As usual with a program like this, the teachers ended up on one side: we need more money; and the parents ended up on the other side: our children are not being educated; with administrators just kind of “out there.”
With the cost to educate a child at $10,000 per year on average nation-wide, how is it possible that a child isn’t being taught the foundational skills needed to read, write and do computation?
The answer to that was easily seen in the attitude of the head of the Department of Education in South Carolina who ardently defended the status quo claiming test scores for children in her state are rising.
That, of course, is debatable, considering the “test” to which she referred is not a test in the sense that it is an objective measure; the “test” to which she refers is an assessment — a subjective measurement wherein the level of difficulty, scoring rubrics, and pass/fail bar can all be changed at a whim. In other words, an assessment is a subjective measure of ability that does not produce comparable scores over time and is not an accurate measure of any child’s ability under any circumstance.
Then there is the National Education Association and its state affiliates nation-wide, more than adequately represented in the piece by John Stossel. Their mantra: more money, more money, more money … $$$$$ … we just need more money. One administrator proposed the figure go as high as $30,000 or, well … even more.
Yet private schools and charter schools (according to the 20/20 piece), having less money per child to work with, educated students for far less than $10,000 each and the children got a better education. The reason they could do that? Because the teachers were there to educate children, and if they didn’t educate children, they were out the door.
Not so, however, with the unionized teachers of the NEA — the steps needed to discharge one teacher caught red-handed sending sexually explicit emails to a minor of the opposite sex was incredible. In an “in your face” pronouncement, one male teacher, surrounded by his fellow union members, played well for the camera, “If I’m a bad teacher, prove it” or words to that effect. Doesn’t leave one with a warm and fuzzy feeling that the union teachers are there to teach but rather to get everything they can get and cry for more. Anyone who has had an insider view of an NEA convention comes away with a decided impression that the organization is more about promoting communitarian ideals then educating children according to the ideals of our unique nation.
So much for the hue and cry of the National Education Association. It’s amazing they didn’t drag forth their longer list of excuses of why children “can’t learn” which includes poverty, single parent homes, parents in general, hunger, socio-economic status ………..
The flip side of the coin is the adversarial situation that exists between teachers and administrators with both sides equally as guilty of immature, childish, even petty antics, the result being an atmosphere charged with animosity where children can not possibly receive the foundational skills in reading, writing and computation they need.
The ABC 20/20 piece, Stupid in America, was overall a good piece, but really nothing that any parent, concerned for the education of his/her child, doesn’t already know.
In closing, however, came the clincher which sent the piece in the wrong direction: the promotion of choice, charters and vouchers as a solution.
These are not solutions. Quoting the Goals 2000: Educate America Act (Public Law 103-227),
Sec. 308. State Use of Funds.
… (b) Succeeding years.—Each state education agency that receives an allotment under this title for any year after the first year of such agency receives assistance under this title shall—
… (2) use the remainder of such assistance for State activities designed to implement its State improvement plan, such as—
… (I) promoting public magnet schools, public “charter schools”, and other mechanisms for increasing choice among public schools, including information and referral programs which provide parents with information on available choices;
… (d) Special Rule.—Any new public school established under this title—
… (3) shall operate under the authority of a State Educational agency or local educational agency.
In other words, any new school established, a.k.a., magnet school, public charter school or other mechanism for increasing choice among public schools, shall operate under the state education agency or local educational agency. And, under the Goals 2000: Education America Act, any state receiving a Goals 2000 grant shall implement systems education in all schools over which it maintains control. Result: any choice, charter, or voucher recommendation, proposal, or implementation must conform to Goals 2000 and be systems education based, a.k.a., education based on outcomes—what the child should know and be able to do, a.k.a., subjective in scope and measure. Any charter school established would have to be systems oriented; and school accepting a voucher or participating in a choice option would have to be systems oriented. This would include private schools.
As such, charters, choice and vouchers are not the answer to what plagues government schools. They will not cure anything. They will, however, serve to further entrench systems education as follows.
The ultimate goal of systems education is the “world class worker” who has demonstrated mastery in six crucial areas as determined by the SCANS Competencies and delineated, via Goals 2000, by the State Exit Outcomes (by whatever named called): teamwork, critical thinking, communications, decision making, adapting to change and understanding whole systems (or systems thinking).
The attributes of the world class worker will be determined according to regional economic development strategies and regional labor market needs as determined by the regional Workforce Investment Board under the auspices of the federal government. Regional economic development strategies and regional labor market needs will hinge on regional industry, both established and proposed. As a side note: Regional economic development strategies and regional labor market needs may cross state lines (and eventually country lines), transcending and therefore justifying the elimination of state governments for regional governments, nation states for regionalism.
What better way to produce workers for those industries than charter schools connected directly to an industry? X number of workers are needed for ABC industry; X number of children are determined to have the “right” inclinations to the attributes needed according to their workforce profile assay; those children are directed to the publicly funded ABC charter school. Thus ABC industry has a steady stream of workers.
The one stop career center provides training and retraining for workers laid off or out of work to channel them into a new or existing industry that needs workers. This is what “adapting to change” means. The child will no longer reach for the star or stars of his/her choice, he/she will be trained and retrained to meet the needs of regional industry.
For this reason, and in accordance with the unique construct of our nation, choice, charters and vouchers are not the answer.
What is the answer? The answer lies in the First Amendment to our United States Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise therefore…”
Education, in every instance, is based on religious beliefs, whether Christianity, Humanism (Darwinism), Hindu, Islam, New Age …
Our Founding Fathers reserved to the states and the people those powers not specifically delegated to the central government (the Tenth Amendment to the Bill of Rights). No where in the Constitution is the power to regulate education given to the federal government. No where.
Nor did the federal government have the right to require states to regulate education as they did in many of the Enabling Acts allowing territories to vote for statehood. This should have been challenged and overturned as unconstitutional at the time.
Our Founding Fathers intended that education should remain free of government regulation and control in the interests of producing a literate and well-educated society of children capability of restraining to its intended bounds government at all levels, such that American citizens could truly remain free.
And it stands to reason that government can only justify its existence, its increased power and control over people, if it continues to grow. When government controls the education of the child, the government is also going to educate that child to its own purposes. Dumbing down children, such as is currently happening in the government schools, witnessed so well by the New Jersey student — shown in the ABC 20/20 piece — who did not know the Bill of Rights, or its purpose, serves the purposes of the government in exerting power and control over the people. The more children who exit the government schools dumbed down the bleaker the future of our unique nation becomes. So when George Bush, Jr, currently the President of these United States, allegedly proclaims that the Constitution is naught but a “g-d piece of paper,” the children of the rising generation have no clue that he portends the taking of their freedom, delivering them into slavery of the worst kind. [To fully comprehend the damage public schools are doing to your children, order the book "Public-School - Public Menace"]
Such is why our Founding Fathers did not give to the government the right to regulate education.
The answer then is to return education to the intent of our Founding Fathers — outside the control and regulation of government at all levels.
To order, "Stupid in America" from 20/20 call, 800-505-6139. The price is $29.95 + $6.00 S/H.
© 2006 Lynn M. Stuter - All Rights Reserved
Mother and wife, Stuter has spent the past ten years researching systems theory with a particular emphasis on education. She home schooled two daughters, now grown and on their own. She has worked with legislators, both state and federal, on issues pertaining to systems governance and education reform. She networks nationwide with other researchers and citizens concerned with the transformation of our nation. She has traveled the United States and lived overseas.
Web site: www.learn-usa.com
When government controls the education of the child, the government is also going to educate that child to its own purposes. Dumbing down children...