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"Indeed, the rage of theorists to make constitutions a vehicle for the conveyance of their own crude, and visionary aphorisms of government, requires to be guarded against with the most unceasing vigilance."
     -- Joseph Story
     Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States
     Book III, § 1857.
 

Monday, January 19, 2004

A high-level flyby of some of the problems our fractured public schools are causing for us (via Joanne Jacobs).

There are all sorts of things systemically wrong with our society right now, and almost all of them can trace at least one thick root back to education's slow downward spiral. That's a subject for a really long post, though, and it doesn't look like I'll have time to write it any time soon. Suffice it to say, for now: This ought to be the country's first domestic priority. I emphatically do not mean to say, we ought to nationalize education: I can think of few surer ways to make the problem much worse.

If I were asked, what single political act could we as a country undertake that would pay the biggest future dividends, I would say, bust education loose from the idiots who have made careers perverting it. This includes the following:

  • Disband every soi-disant School of Education at a public university, and purge its staff from the public payroll. It has been many, many years since the accumulated worthless "scholarship" reached critical mass, poisoning whatever few things might otherwise have been worthwhile, and the only way to deal with it is to throw it away and start over.
  • Eliminate all current credentials required in order to teach in the public schools. Those credentials aren't worth the paper they're printed on.
  • Evaluate credentials from those Schools of Education (other than those that have been foolishly -- disastrously -- required by law in order to teach) as counting against the one proffering them. Any honest person ought to be embarrassed to stand in such company.
  • Scrap all State curriculum requirements. Grab the curriculum requirements from, say, sixty or so years ago, dust them off, and start over. Hell, grab the textbooks while you're at it. They will be missing the last few decades' worth of technological and historical progress, but that's not a big part of what small children need to learn, and the results could not possibly be worse than what we have now. You will be surprised, also, how many incompetent teachers, currently sheltering behind meaningless credentials, this will bust loose from their sinecures.
  • Give school principals the unappealable power to hire and fire all other school staff. Establish, in each school district, the elected office of Visitor of Public Schools (for which office any degree or certificate in Education shall be a disqualification), which office shall have, as its sole responsibility, the unappealable power to hire and fire school principals. Eliminate the independent election of officers of the State Boards of Education, and make them wholly accountable for their performance to, and dependent for their continued employment upon, the State Governors. This will strip the schools of their insulating layers of unaccountable bureaucratic indifference.
  • Crush the public teachers' unions. Crush them utterly. Liquidate them and distribute their erstwhile assets back to the teachers from whom they were extorted.
Think we can manage all that by next Thursday?

-- posted by Clayton 1/19/2004 10:45:00 PM


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