Thursday, October 07, 2004

READER RESPONSE -- What a mess we have made of public education

Posted by Craig Westover | 4:00 PM |  

In response to my column this week, I received this e-mail from Wilton Anderson, a salt-of-the-earth retired software engineer who takes an active role in policing the expenditures of the schools in his district. For his watchdog efforts, he’s been booed and hissed at school board meetings, received phone calls in the middle of the night and been called a “gray-haired old curmudgeon” and a “child hater.”

He’s not that at all. In fact, like most of us, he’s very much for public education, and like most of us, he just doesn’t like what it’s become.

What has it become? Wilton’s words might seem confrontational to some, but they drive to real issues that must be addressed. The chalenge us to face to basic question "What is the proper role of government in education?"

What a mess we have made of public education. I mostly blame parents for expecting a public school system to not only educate their children but to provide an array of social services to raise their kids from morning to night.

Of course, the education community supports this as it expands their bureaucracy and gives them more to complain about resulting in double digit pay and benefit increases when teachers put forth their demands. Just look at what has happened in the last few years.

We now have more athletic coaches, directors, and school psychologists at some larger schools than we do teachers at smaller schools.

We have destroyed the neighborhood school concept with open enrollment. We now have the added expense of busing kids to schools located all over town.

We constantly preach diversity even hiring "Diversity Coordinators." If we didn't talk about diversity every day of the week there would be no diversity problem or at least far less. It's not kid's who have a diversity problem. It's the parents.

We now provide breakfast for kids in addition to lunch. What's next, dinner and a snack before bed time?

We now provide early childhood education to prepare kids before age 5 for
school. Why not let kids be kids before starting public school?

We have newer cars driven by most high school students sitting in the school parking lots than many of the tax payers drive yet we still provide an expensive bus service.

We have special activity buses after school hours with very few kids on some of those expensive buses. The reason I was given by my district BOE when asked was "so busy parents didn't have to pick up their kids". What nonsense.

We have an immigration/language problem where 26 different languages are now spoken in some of our city schools.

These are but a few of the things wrong with a public education system that has went down hill because of the demands of spoiled parents, no real immigration policy, unfunded mandates, and the teachers’ union. The budget in my district is now over $1/4 billion dollars and climbing. Is it any wonder our schools are failing and the senior property owners are going broke with additional property levies? The answer is not rocket science.

Kudos to Wilton for his vigilance. And our thanks.