June 5, 2002
Similar version published in the Daily Press - June 17, 2002

Recently, the editorial page editor of my local California newspaper rightly advocated an opinion that, ..."school vouchers are not only a good idea, but could be the saving of America's educational system."

Being a fair and balanced newspaper, the editor published a local school teacher's superficial complaints about the newspaper's support of vouchers. Then the teacher drifted off into blaming low pay, out-of-control kids and parents for all of public education's ills.

The teacher's article was disturbingly typical of a deeply flawed national education system, and an educational establishment in blind denial, which demanded a response as to the probability of how the system failed and why.

Indeed, when the teacher insisted on finger pointing and playing the blame game against out-of-control kids and irresponsible parents, he was merely identifying one of the results of an American educational system that abdicated its responsibility to parents and students in the 1960's and 1970' s, when our colleges and universities were taken over by socialist professors and gutted by radical anti-establishment students of the boomer generation.

The rest is history: Those students were the ungrateful post-war children of a relieved WW II generation that was a little too permissive. And when they came to power in government and the educational system, they simply ruined both. Government grew into a national nanny, and public education was turned into a giant laboratory of mad social scientists experimenting on students.

So-called educators and activists of the new education establishment sacrificed proficiency and achievement in core academics such as reading, writing, math and science in favor of self-esteem, social promotion, outcome-based education and inflated grading from kindergarten to college.

And they didn't stop there. The self-absorbed new breed of educators created the science of perpetual victimology and politically correct thought police to control human behavior through legislation, regulation and judicial edict.

Above all, there are the nation's teacher colleges, which were aptly criticized in Rita Kramer's nationally acclaimed and revealing 1991 book, "Ed School Follies: The Miseducation of America's Teachers," wherein they failed both teachers and their future students by teaching them how to teach, but not what to teach. Kramer noted that teachers were not schooled in the subjects they were required to teach, "...The problem is that our teachers don't even know enough math and science to teach it to their pupils. They themselves are products of the system that requires little of its high school graduates and little more of the baccalaureates, whose education courses then train them to be social workers rather than develop the meager intellectual skills they bring with them to graduate study, and beyond, to the classroom... The problem of teacher ignorance is the problem of college graduates who don't know what they should because they were graduated from high school without knowing what they should, having come from elementary school with poor reading skills and inadequate content knowledge..."

Then, of course, there were the children's rights advocates like Hillary Clinton, who neutralized parental control, all but eliminated discipline in homes, schools and society, and created an anti-family adversary system between parents and children.

Yet the education establishment takes no responsibility for what they wrought upon generations of students, robbing them of their education, while pumping them through factories of ignorance and producing little more socially indoctrinated, functionally illiterate young people.

Lest we forget, the CTA and the NEA have historically been more interested in absolute job security and political power than the education of students, and that's why they vehemently oppose vouchers, home schooling and privatized, competitive education of any description.

Clearly, the teacher's childish outrage was misplaced, if not misdirected in condemning parents and the growing number of school voucher proponents who want to save American education, which means the future of the country. Certainly, it serves no constructive purpose to parrot the whining anthem of the educational establishment, consumed by administration-heavy bureaucracy.

Alas, the truth of the matter is inescapable. California's public schools are a miserable failure, even with more money and smaller classrooms. If anyone doubts that, they should take notice of the public school system in our nation's capitol city. Washington, DC spends the most on each student ($10,000 per year), it has the second lowest teacher/student ratio (1 to 14), and it is the second lowest in student performance and achievement (Mississippi is the lowest).

It's simply human nature that if a society misguides and neglects its children, then that society will have to answer to those children in the end. America should know.

What is painfully clear is, that if it were not for the inexcusable blunders and failures of social and educational revisionists - good-intentioned as they might have been - there probably would not have been such a proliferation of school violence, highlighted by the Columbine massacre, nor would there be so many juveniles be prosecuted as adults for the seriousness of their crimes.

The following week, another teacher's letter was published in my local newspaper. It a refreshing view from an obviously dedicated educator scolding the not-so-inspired teacher.

Nevertheless, what more can be expected from the failures of good intentions, the unintended consequences of the establishment of the public education monopoly, and so many years of so-called education reform?

If the Founders could have foreseen the consequences of government controlled education, the First Amendment might have included the following clause: "Congress and the several states shall make no law respecting the establishment of education, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

Hopefully, the Supreme Court will make the right decision on school vouchers.

Daniel B. Jeffs, founder
The Direct Democracy Center