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THE DUMBING DOWN OF AMERICA

February 21, 2011

            As I write this article the battle continues in Wisconsin between the Republican Governor, Scott Walker, the Republican controlled State Legislature, and the powerful teachers unions and their allies. At issue is the future of a state that faces a budget shortfall of billions, yet is required by state law to have a balanced budget.

            As is the case in many states across the nation, the financial problems are primarily due to outlandish salaries and benefits being paid by states to public employees, including teachers. Legislation has been introduced in the Wisconsin Legislature to limit the collective bargaining rights of the Teacher Unions and force the teachers to contribute a greater percentage to their own pension plans and health insurance costs. The unions are opposing this even though the contributions would still be far below the percentages in those areas that are paid by employees in the private sector.

            If the unions win and the law is not passed the state will be forced to lay off thousands of public employees including several thousand teachers. This is another example of the union bosses caring nothing for their members since the leaders are only interested in maintaining their own political power and high salaries. They are even willing to hold the children of the state hostage because many schools have been forced to close for days due to the illegal absence of teachers from their classrooms.

            Unfortunately we can expect to see this scenario played out across the country as state and local governments seek to avoid bankruptcy, and get the runaway public employee unions in check. However, as critical as the economic issues are, there is another area involving the teachers unions that is just as important to America’s future. That is the fact that the deliberate actions of these unions are causing the dumbing down of America’s children.

            Every year it seems that worldwide surveys reveal that the children in public schools in the United States are falling further behind in math and science abilities than their counterparts in other countries including Korea, Taiwan, Switzerland, and Hungary, to name a few. In many public schools across our nation the dropout rate continues to climb and often students that do graduate are functioning far below desired levels when it comes to basic skills like the ability to read and write.

            In the meantime, the teachers unions continue to steadfastly oppose basic competency requirements for teachers. In many school districts, the union contracts require that teachers have tenure, and it is very difficult to fire even the most incompetent teachers. In fact, it is often virtually impossible to fire teachers for any reason. In New York City for example, thousands of teachers sit comfortably and idly at home because they have been barred from the classroom for reasons that range from gross incompetence to allegations of the physical and even sexual abuse of students. Yet, these teachers continue to receive their salaries and benefits because of the difficulty in terminating them.

            It is interesting that none of this is occurring in parochial schools, charter schools, or other private schools. In most of these schools teachers are paid less, and do not receive nearly the benefits of their public school counterparts. In addition, if they are incompetent, they are shown the door. Yet, these schools generally have higher graduation rates than public schools, the students score higher on standardized tests, and a much larger percentage attend college. In addition, most home schooled children also appear to be far better educated than many public school students.

            The solution to the problem is obvious. In America we have always cherished our freedom to make our own choices and it should be no different when it comes to educating our own children. Over 25 years ago I served on a state government advisory group on education in Louisiana. I proposed that the state adopt a voucher system that would allow parents to receive vouchers from the state that would let them pay for the schooling that they wanted for their children, whether public or private. Needless to say, I was generally looked on as a radical conservative who had lost his mind. However, now the call for vouchers, or some similar system, is becoming widespread.

            Of course, there is very vocal opposition to allowing parents to have a choice in educating their children and this opposition is led by the teachers unions and their “progressive” supporters. I have researched this opposition movement carefully and have come to the conclusion that the reasons behind it are far more sinister than most Americans realize. I will discuss this in the next post to this blog when I talk about the main political agenda behind the dumbing down of America.

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Thank you for the great article. I reside between Chicago suburban area and Las Vegas. Nevada is 'home' to Harry Reid, as you know. It also ranks 50th in education. Harry must be proud!

I believe you cited most of the reasons for the 'dumbing down' of America. Overlooked, perhaps, is the fact that (at least in the Southwestern states) we face a daily struggle of non-communication with students due to the fact that multitudes of them are illegal and do not speak English. (As it should be), our textbooks are written in our native language and most teachers are not Spanish-speaking. (The children nor their parents seem to care if they ever learn English - with so many of the outspoken ones claiming they are here to retake 'their' country.) Between the housing problems/ foreclosure rates, unemployment, state and (especially) local economic shortfall, poor education and rising crime rates, it has become embarrassing to say you live in Nevada!

The other unmentioned possibility of 'dumbing down', is that today's government wants the people uninformed....call it conspiracy theory if you like.

In any event, you are correct. Our leaders should be ashamed that we fall 15th in the world in educational level - but spending more than any other nation. Those two facts alone do not mesh!

Thanks for a great article. I live in Las Vegas, NV sorry to say. Not that it's not a great place to live, but our public school system sucks.

Salaried people don't have the luxury of collective bargaining, since unions do have that luxury they should take some of their PAC money, invest it, and pay pensions for its employees. Fat chance that will ever happen.

Thanks for the, as-usual, enlightening information. I don't know if you read it or not (or recall the article) but a couple of years ago The Dallas Morning News published a list of the school districts and the salaries of the educators' "disciplines". As one may easily guess, coaches were the highest paid - most were 30% to 40% higher than the other disciplines. Some of them pulling down over $100, 000/yr. - probably the football coaches. I'll no doubt get a lot of flack over this, but it shows to go you where our interests lay (or is it lie).

It would be interesting to know how many students have parents who are here illegally. If those students were not allowed to attend, how many teachers would not need to be cut. Then, one could raise the argument that they are paying school tax by proxy, via their landlord. However, when more than one familia lives in a "single family" residence, or an apartment designed for one family, someone is not paying his fair share of school tax (or other taxes).

It still comes down to an immigration problem.......how many people are without jobs because there are those here from outside the country, legally or illegally, filling those positions. I have written Cornyn's office and Hutchinson's office, suggesting that we (the USA) place a moratorium on all work visas and educational visas. Plus, raise the tariff on work that is exported from the USA. No one seems to be listening - or at least, not hearing. Why is it our leaders think it is more important to not irritate the rest of the world at the cost of our citizens' way of life? - this disregard pisses me off.

In the meantime, the teachers should be boycotting Washington on these issues, for therein lies the entire problema. I'm sure you recall what happened to Safeway, when their union employees refused to accept competitive wages, here in Texas - they closed all their stores in Texas, and the employees lost their jobs.

So there you have it.
~jww

This is a good one i really enjoyed it! thanks for sharing and hope to see more soon.

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Merci pour cet article, j'attends la suite avec impatience. Je dois dire que je ne regrette en rien de m'être abonné à votre weblog. A bientôt.

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