Though the federal "No Child Left Behind" program is a worthy effort to improve our education system, the nation's report card is riddled with mixed results and little to no progress. However, there are deeply entrenched historical reasons for the difficulties experienced by students, teachers, parents and the education establishment in general, which cannot be easily overcome or corrected.
Unfortunately, from the last half of the 20th century until the present, our country's public education system has suffered from the unintended consequences of education revisionists' good intentions.
What is unconscionable about what happened in the process is that society was blind-sided by self-serving radicals and ideological movements bent on dumbing down education with irresponsible experimentation -- such as new math, whole language, social promotion, outcome based education -- and replacing core academics with political correctness and social indoctrination. The results, of course, were graduating students from high school with heads full of mush and functionally illiterate.
But what is most disturbing about the lack of improvement is that there has been no real reform since the National Commission on Excellence in Education issued its report, "A Nation at Risk" on April 26, 1983, warning us that, "Our nation is at risk... the educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a nation and a people... If a unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war... Our society and its educational institutions seem to have lost sight of the basic purpose of schooling, and of the high expectations and disciplined effort needed to attain them... That we have compromised this commitment is, upon reflection, hardly surprising, given the multitude of often conflicting demands we have placed on our Nation's schools and colleges. They are routinely called on to provide solutions to personal, social and political problems that the home and other institutions will not or cannot resolve. We must understand that these demands on our schools and colleges often exact an educational cost as well as a financial one."
Clearly, the commission's assessment has not been acted upon in any significant way since the report was issued 22 years ago. Our education system is still a national disgrace, and it has been so blighted by bloated bureaucracies and selfish interests, that it might simply be a lost cause.
Certainly, California is the poster state for failure in public education. Even though education is guaranteed 40 percent of the state's budget, plus continuous passing of education bonds and income from the lottery, the state system continues to whine and spew propaganda blaming everyone else for their failures. Indeed, what was once a state of education to be proud of, California continues to be a money pit languishing in the national cellar.
Maybe its time to scrap the morass and privatize education in order to provide the highest quality education to our students through competition, which is less costly in every respect. After all, our future is at stake.
Daniel B. Jeffs, Founder
The Direct Democracy Center
August 25, 2005