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USA Today had a story that made my heart palpitate like I was a teenager again.
The National Education Association (NEA) has lost more than 100,000 members since 2010. By 2014, union projections show, it could lose a cumulative total of about 308,000 full-time teachers and other workers, a 16% drop from 2010. Lost dues will shrink NEA’s budget an estimated $65 million, or 18%.
NEA calls the membership losses “unprecedented” and predicts they may be a sign of things to come. “Things will never go back to the way they were…“
Let’s certainly hope they’re right about that.
Let me be upfront with you. My dad was a teacher, he was the principal of every school I attended until high school and then he was the county superintendent of schools. He valued education about all things. And he hated teachers unions with an unbridled passion. I’m his son.
Why do I feel that way? Well go no farther than the speech that Dennis Van Roekel, the president of the NEA gave at the opening of their annual convention. His opening applause line woke up even before my second cup of coffee.
Because we, the more than three million members of the National Education Association – WE … EDUCATE … AMERICA.
We Educate America!
Like Hell you do. Look at any major city and the performance of their “public” school systems. In Chicago, President Obama’s home city, less than half of students graduate. Same for Washington DC and they spend more per student than any school system in the U.S.
Test scores have declined virtually every year since the U.S. Department of Education was formed by Jimmy Carter as a sop to the NEA. A high school diploma is worth so little these days that a major effort has to be made at universities to help new freshmen get the tools needed to do even the current level of dumbed down academic work that passes for “undergraduate education”.
So, Mr. Van Roekel, to repeat myself, like Hell you do.
Your organization is a failure and it is in business only because you buy the support of Democratic politicians. Like Democratic politicians in the mold of Barack Obama, Van Roekel is a whiner.
We spend endless time getting students ready for and taking standardized tests – all at the expense of literature that inspires students, or history that helps them understand, or the arts that help them express themselves.
Mr. Van Roekel, that’s a load of crap. K-12 curriculum – as well as college curriculum – has been dumbed down to the point where graduates can’t write or do simple math. The goal of the New York City schools systems not long ago was that their graduates be at least “functionally illiterate.” In other words, able to read the directions on the back of a soup can. That’s what $10,000 per student per year buys from the NEA.
Let’s talk for a second about the programs the NEA does favor since we now know they’re against “teaching to the test”.
Everybody talks about the “when,” with one glaring exception – EARLY CHILDHOOD education. The importance of early childhood education is obvious, the research is clear.
Here, Mr. Van Roekel goes from simple minded pulpit thumping to demonstrating that he is incapable of doing basic research, or that he’s lying.
We wrote about early childhood education a while back here at Liberty. We cited a Cato Institute report about an in-depth report on Head Start done by the U.S. Department of Education, here’s the kicker:
The bad news came in the study released this month: It found that, by the end of the first grade, children who attended Head Start are essentially indistinguishable from a control group of students who didn’t.
What’s so damning is that this study used the best possible method to review the program: It looked at a nationally representative sample of 5,000 children who were randomly assigned to either the Head Start (“treatment”) group or to the non-Head Start (“control”) group.
In fact, not a single one of the 114 tests administered to first graders — of academics, socio-emotional development, health care/health status and parenting practice — showed a reliable, statistically significant effect from participating in Head Start.
Cost of Head Start to U.S. taxpayers? Seven billion dollars. Add to this another 69 programs that suck up over $25B that could be used for productive purposes like buying food or starting a savings account.
Here’s the bottom line for the NEA.
So what is the purpose of PUBLIC education in the 21st Century? Why does it need to exist? What do we want it to achieve for students, for society, for America?
The purpose of public education is access and equity!
That’s why it’s public!
Gee, silly me. I thought the purpose of education was to educate. But then I’ve been accused of living in a pre-“1984” kind of world. The NEA is the implementation arm of Big Brother’s catechism.
But there’s more to education than academics. So when we talk about the WHY of public education, we have to address the needs of the WHOLE CHILD.
That means including issues like health care, good nutrition, a safe family and school environment – ALL these things affect learning and impact student development.
And just so you know that their priority is putting children first, here’s the wrap-up.
One way is through the political process, and we’re going to talk about that a lot over the next few days – because the election this year is critical for public education, and it’s also a turning point for the middle class in America.
And first on the list – we must do everything we can to re-elect President Barack Obama!
I don’t think there’s much more to say, other than get involved in politics at your local level and fight like hell against these infidels. The NEA can’t go out of business fast enough.
The fate of the nation is at stake.