Why is education seemingly such a non-issue?

The Sec of Ed. said his peace yesterday (about the teachers’ org being a bunch of terrorists), which got a little air time. But ONLY A LITTLE! Now it’s forgotten, one day later!

There are big issues out there: war on terror, sinking economy and rising debt.
But education seems to be treated like a non-issue.
Sure the political voices give it a few words of lip-service, but that’s all?

Why is there no concern?

To me, education is paramount to a strong everything. And the american public school system is absolutely horrendous.
The only issue that gets even a smidgen of time is about school vouchers, which is certainly an issue as it is a full stomach-punch to an already suffocating system.

Does america not give a shit?

(I am very interested in Mayor Bloomberg’s overhaul of the NYC school system. If it succeeds, it will certainly be a model for the country. But it is too soon to tell how it’s doing.)

I think there is a lot of concern. It comes up a lot in congressional races. It was a big deal in delegate and senate races here in Virginia.

I’m a political conservative, and I can tell you that this is an issue that conservatives care deeply about, going way past mere lip service.

Things like the home schooling movement and school vouchers are reactions to the deterioration we see in the public schools. You can debate whether these are appropriate responses to the problem, but you can’t deny that it’s a genuine effort to find a solution, motivated by a concern for the well-being of children.

I think the remarks of Sec. Paige were only slightly over the top. For a long time, the NEA has been concerned with the well-being of NEA members first, and schoolchildren second. The status quo is serving nobody right now, except for entrenched bureaucrats and union leaders. If the NEA isn’t willing to lead or follow in making education better, they should damn well get out of the way.

Possibly because most educational funding occurs at the state and local level.

All politics is local, but educational politics is more so than most.


PS - fuck.

When I heard Secretary Paige’s comments yesterday, I had a brief vision of him apologizing:

“I apologize to all the hard-working, dedicated teachers in the NEA. I also apologize to all the other teachers in the NEA…”

When I heard Secretary Paige’s comments yesterday, I had a brief vision of Halliburton scoring another huge open-ended contract to build housing at Guantanamo for all the newly unmasked enemy combatants (AKA teachers).

I don’t think that the Secretary’s asinine remark about the NEA being a terrorist organization is the point of the OP. The point is that there is precious little attention being paid to the needs of education in this election, at least so far. The apparent reason is that education policy and funding is not all that sexy a topic.

You will remember that the last presidential election cycle there was a fair amount of talk about private school vouchers and the No Child Left Behind Act. We just are not hearing about that yet. You can suppose that serious discussion of education issues has been drowned out by silly posturing about service records, National Guard drills, phantom paramours, Jane Fonda and old hippies. It comes in a distant second to things like the war in Iraq and the interminable campaign against terrorism. You can also suppose that the President doesn’t want to talk about No Child Left Untested (which has been a catastrophe) and wants to save the school voucher issue and public schools as a venue for sectarian worship issue until he needs it to drive the true believers to the polls in November.

Having gotten the Texas every student testing system adopted as the national standard and having run into problems with the financial ramifications of vouchers it may well be that the Bush team has exhausted its repertoire of school reforms. It is worth noting that even so Republican a state as Virginia has made gestures toward forfeiting federal school funds to get out from under NCLB. That does not bode well for the future of the Bush education initiatives.

A friend of mine, now a school administrator in Texas after retiring as an Iowa teacher and administrator, has remarked that the problem with Texas education is that the state is 25 years behind the times but thinks they just invented ideas that other states tried and rejected decades ago. It is like every generation thinking that it discovered sex.

First I’m a terrorist for opposing invading a soveriegn nation on bogus intelligence data, and now my mom is a terrorist for teaching the youth of tomorrow! I can’t wait until our Idiot in Chief’s cronies call my cat a terrorist because he buries biological waste in the sand…

“…the problem with Texas education is that the state is 25 years behind the times but thinks they just invented ideas that other states tried and rejected decades ago. It is like every generation thinking that it discovered sex.”

Thanks Spavined Gelding! THAT kicks ass!!

I just love the No Child Left Untes… um behind act. :rolleyes: They didn’t fund it. They don’t seem to have any answers but to test. I have 40 kids in a 9th grade world studies class. the classroom was designed 30 at the most. I have 9 weeks to cover world history from the french revolution to present and I have to cover economics, and geography as well. Most of them can’t write a paragraph to save their lives, and the only solution thats come done the pike so far is to test them more. Oh well that and cut the school budget by 10%. I have it easy in some ways. The math teachers in the building are running 45 and 50 kids in algebra 1 classes and the art classes are running closer to 55, which is hard, but we at least have kids that show up. Some of the other local schools have a 40% attendance rate on any given day, and still we wind up loosing at least a week of class time a year for testing. But, lets test them more. Yah that will do it.

You know what? Most of us don’t go in it because we are the bad guy who want to screw up kids and get whatever out of the system we can. Noone goes into it because they want to be bad at the job. More and more we see our polititians do nothing but blame us for problems they helped set up. I don’t have solutions, the only thing i am sure of is that the way it stands now, kids are loosing close to 2 months of education over the course of their school lives to standardised testing. Somehow I think that time would be mostly better off in the classroom.

I can so deny. Those are not genuine efforts to find a solution, they are pet projects of the Republican party to subsidize religious education. I believe that the Republican plan is to create, exacerbate, exaggerate, and otherwise facilitate the problems in public education so they can use the failure of the schools as justification for these evil little schemes to get taxpayers to subsidize private religious education. It’s not concern for all kids, no sir, not in the least.

This is so very true. If there is anything that will bring out the voters, it’s a school budget that needs defeatin’.

Republicans don’t want educated kids – educated kids learn to think for themselves, and to ask questions, and to analyze things critically instead of blindly believing what they’re told. Next thing you know, they start to wonder if the Bible is really the word of God, or if Saddam really had WMDs that warranted a war. It’s the same screwball reasoning that brands colleges as “liberal” merely because they actually expose students to different points of view…

Yeah, right.

Who’s more likely to think critically about political issues, a home schooled kid, a Catholic school grad, or a graduate of an inner city high school in Washington, DC.

High school graduates in some DC schools typically emerge with an eighth-grade education at best.

This is what the public school system can do for students in our nation’s capital. Can anybody here defend this?

Also, at some “liberal” colleges, there aren’t any conservatives on the faculty at all. How, pray tell, does this expose students to different points of view?

You realize, of course, how unfair your question is? You have equated the under funded, generally unsupported public system in what is probably one of the poorest cities in the country and with one of the least responsive school systems in the country to public education generally. You compare that specific failed local a system to some imaginary generalize parochial school or some likewise imaginary and unspecific home schooled kid. By the same token where are these colleges with no conservatives on staff. You act as if a Calculus instructor who was a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee is an affirmative danger to the Republic.

If you load your question enough you get the answer you want.

In the mean time I see local schools in the Upper Midwest (an area with acknowledged superior public schools) burdened and encumbered by a testing scheme that sanctions schools for not teaching to a standardized test and rewards schools that restrict their student body and eliminate marginal students and special needs students in order to have a correct out come on the national standard. If for instance you say that every student in a school must achieve at the 44 Percentile level on last years state wide test then the school must accept that it never can achieve the standard or it must somehow eliminate 43 of every 100 students. Now, that is just bizarre. But, that is the Bush education initiative. It may not be designed to destroy public education but it surely isn’t helping it any.

Care to offer a speculation about how much DC spends annually per student, in comparison with, say, Austin, Texas, or Ames, Iowa?

(Hint: the answer doesn’t help your case one bit)

  • Rick

Right on, Bricker.

And, if I loaded things a little by choosing an inner city high school student for comparison, it was in response to a gross distortion of home schooled or parochial schooled students as uneducated dunderheads.

There are lots of uneducated people running about the country. Nearly all are products of our vaunted public school system, not home schooling or private schooling. It is the public school system that needs reform, not the alternatives.

I think part of the problem of making Education an issue is that a politician has to bascially come out and say ‘Your kids are dumb’. People don’t like hearing that. Add to the fact that a politician would probably never say ‘One of the chief reasons your kids are dumb is that their parents are dumb and don’t spend enough time trying to make their kids smarter’.

Kind of hard to turn around and say ‘Vote for me you idiots, it’s your only chance!’

“Reform” is Republican for “destroy,” as in “Welfare reform,” and “Tort reform.” They have invested a lot in exaggerating the problems at public schools, while introducing testing and cutting funds to prove/guarantee they will not succeed, all while being openly hostile to educators as the source of the problem. They don’t want to fix public schools, they want them to fail. The “alternatives” are slimy schemes to get taxpayers to fund private and religious education for THEIR kids while giving a big capitalist middle finger to the rest of children. They have recently started in on higher education, too. Well, not that recently. It’s patently obvious to me, as an educator, that the Republicans are anti-public-education and have been for as long as I can remember. Your statement about “concern” is typical Republican doublespeak.

After no small consideration, I have concluded that politicians don’t want to destroy the educational system.

I have concluded that they wish to fuck it up beyond all recognition so they can charge in, save the day by fixing it, and once again ride the teachers into office. It’s been happening here in Texas for years. Decades, even.

You see, simply because some inner-city school in DC is screwed up, this does NOT mean that EVERY SCHOOL IN AMERICA is screwed up. But the politicians insist on acting as if it did.

By the same token, it is patently unfair to judge a teacher in a middle-class, well-funded school with twenty students in her class …

…by the same standards one would use to judge a harried inner-city teacher with forty students in her class, at least five of which are attempting to kill five others while class is going on…

…but, again, the politicians insist on doing just that.

Furthermore, the only cure recommended by the current administration consists of:

(a) Passing laws. Lotsa laws.
(b) Raising standards everywhere.
© Taking money away from schools that fail to meet those standards.

This reasoning is patently absurd; it’s the equivalent of putting less gas in a car if it won’t go fast enough to suit you. You SOLVE the problem by opening the hood and tinkering with the engine. It helps if you have some clue how internal combustion engines work. Cutting back on the gasoline supply in order to “punish” it is ridiculous. This will NOT help the problem; it will, in fact, make it worse.

I must therefore conclude that either several generations of politicians are complete idiots, or that there is a hidden agenda here.

Eliminating public education can’t really be the goal. Politicians’ kids go to private schools, but even the most elitist rich guy can’t possibly think ALL kids could go to private school, nor would he want them to.

No, after some consideration, I must conclude it’s all a big hat dance, intended to
(a) draw the attention of the voting public from other, less comfortable issues, and
(b) screw things up so they can later take credit for solving it.

I could be wrong, though…

Skutir, fully half of all the people who voted in the presidential election last time around voted for the Republican candidate. That amounted to 50,456,002 votes for George Bush.

All of these votes were from legal adults. Many of them had school age children. Nearly all of those children are public school students. To say that they are hostile to public education and want schools to fail is, on its face, absurd.

If this big a block of voters monolithically wanted to dismantle public education, it would already be gone.

I haven’t invested anything in exaggerating problems in public education. The high-school grads in DC with only eighth grade educations aren’t an exaggeration and are a problem replicated in cities across America. Most conservative critiques I’ve read actually address the problem of getting education services to this underserved group.

Your seething hatred betrays a very closed mind. That’s a bad thing for a supposed educator to have. Do you mind telling me where you teach? I have kids entering the school system in a few years, and I intend to be very picky about their teachers.