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Education in America - Republicans and the Poor

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Forum topic by HorizontalMike posted 03-12-2012 02:18 AM 2244 views 0 times favorited 55 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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HorizontalMike

6968 posts in 1660 days


03-12-2012 02:18 AM

Topic tags/keywords: gop republicans education poor education in america

It is no surprise that education springs to the front of issues every time another election cycle comes up in America. The propaganda flies and folks start complaining about their teachers back in high school. Of course it is always THAT teacher’s fault that Bubba didn’t learn, didn’t do homework, didn’t attend school, etc. nor end becoming President or a millionaire, or some such story. It is never the students fault, never the parent’s fault, but always the school’s fault or the government’s fault. How convenient, and how incorrect…

Do you ever wonder why the GOP always wants to cut education funding and the Democrats are always trying to expand education funding? The proof is in the pudding and an educated populace tends to vote more progressive (Democrat). So if you ever wondered why the GOP wants to cut funding for public education, now you know. Sure, the GOP will try to sell “state’s rights” and corporate “charter schools” as a better alternative. Test scores prove them wrong. But if the GOP can confuse the issue then funding suffers and more importantly education suffers. Poorly informed voters are republican’s best friend.

BOTTOM LINE: The GOP is threatened by an educated public that can vote.

Some things to consider:

House GOP Seeks to Cut Aid for Literacy, STEM Education
By Erik Robelen on February 13, 2011 8:33 PM
Republican leaders in the House have released a proposal to eliminate funding for a variety of federal education programs, including ones focused on adolescent literacy, math and science education, and teaching U.S. history.

Proof Progressive States Are Better Educated Than Right Wing States
++ From 2007-8 article—The author ”...wanted to know how right wing red states fared against progressive blue states in this year’s Morgan Quitno Smart State rankings. Which group of states has a better record of education on the whole, right wing or progressive? The results are very clear:

Average progressive blue state Smart State ranking: 19
Average right wing red state Smart State ranking: 29.19

Republicans and the Poor
Ezra Klein writes today about Republican Party priorities: I’m not saying that congressional Republicans don’t care about poor people.
I’m not sure why you wouldn’t say that, but whatever. Onward:

But they really care about rich people. So far, the policy agenda they’ve pushed has been a mixture of very expensive tax cuts for the very wealthy and very deep cuts to a lot of programs that focus on the very poor…

....Now they’ve moved onto deficit reduction, or at least spending cuts, and their priorities in the 2011 budget are telling. Their cuts are coming from non-defense discretionary spending. That’s a category of spending, as you can see here, that tends to focus on services to the poor, the jobless and children. Among other cuts, they’ve proposed slicing more than $1 billion off Head Start, $1.1 billion off the Public Housing Capital Fund, $752 million from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, and $5.7 billion from Pell Grants. I could, of course, go on. Democrats have tried to widen the cuts out to other categories so their impact falls less heavily on the disadvantaged, but so far, Republicans have refused. If we’re going to cut spending, we’re going to do it on the backs of the poor.

In other words, congressional Republicans don’t care about poor people…

GOP now defining itself on education
When it came to education, former (Mississippi) Gov. Haley Barbour got to the political precipice and stepped back.

Barbour, like most Mississippi governors, certainly understood the importance of education to the state’s economic and social health. Unlike most of the governors before him, however, it never appeared to be a passionate priority. Politically, public education supporters are a strong force, however, and he abided them.

However, when it got to specific acts, his proposals to reduce education funding – in a state among the lowest in public education support – were met with strong opposition, to the point his solid Republican legislative support began to falter.

When it became clear that he was getting defined as hostile to public education, he would back down.

The zeal of the new Republican leadership in the House and Senate to take dramatic actions on education early on is taking them – and perceptions of the GOP – to that precipice again.

The charter school debate going on in the Legislature is a sea change step. It is more than jut about charter schools. While charter schools could be a positive part of the education mix, the radical approaches being pushed by GOP leaders are potentially harmful on several levels.

The idea that top state policy makers are taking a position that parents must go around the educational leadership of the state and their local communities for educational improvement is troubling. (Remember when the creation of the state lay Board of Education was a heralded reform?)

What is more troubling is a growing perception of hostility to public education by state GOP leaders. This is coupled with the even greater problem of Gov. Phil Bryant’s proposed budget that calls for education cuts. Then there are the truly looney political pandering proposals regarding such things as school prayer and telling teachers how to teach history to protect students from nasty liberal ideas.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."


55 replies so far

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1285 posts in 1744 days


#1 posted 03-12-2012 04:18 AM

Well, unfortunately it doesn’t really fall down to party lines. There is enough blame on both sides of the aisle.

The fact is that schools have plenty of money. They just spend it on the wrong things.

The biggest money goes to transportation. How have we developed to the point where a child is unable to cross the street? Why is it the school district’s responsibility to transport every student regardless of how far they live? I am not talking about rural districts. Nothing to be done about that. If the traffic is not obeying the law around school zones, give them tickets or take away their licenses. Hey, confiscate the cars and give the auction proceeds to the schools. People will catch on pretty quickly.

We have hordes of mystery administrators in all the districts. We are full of program directors, facilitators, assistant administrator for this and that. We have in Texas, last time I looked over 1200 school districts. (Don’t even get me started on the school boards and their interesting spending…) Each with their little kingdom of assistant superintendent for this and that. Chapter I, Title whatever, Bilingual, Elementary Curriculum, Secondary Curriculum, Technology: the list of directors goes on and on. Oh, and now add Chief of Police positions as well. There are districts that have as many of these administrators as they do teachers.

I don’t mind feeding the kids. That is really minor compared to the other stuff and at least it goes to the students.

The other real problem is that as long as we have the current mentality here in the U.S., we will never have our children achieve as well as most of the rest of the world. The main difference is that somehow, here in the U.S. it has become the sole responsibility of the teacher that students learn. Everywhere else the responsibility is on the students. In these other countries, if you don’t want an academic path, they offer a trade path. If they don’t want to be in school at all, there is the door.

We have marginalized all of the students that wish to pursue a non-academic path. We have taken out almost all of the programs for any trades. Those that are left have been turned into the dumping ground for special education so their test scores don’t count against the school. Then the students that have no desire for an academic track are just there killing time and getting into trouble as idle children do. When it escalates into things that would be classified as felonies in the real world, they just sweep it under the carpet because they don’t want to be in the news.

There are many more problems that this but honestly, few of them are related to the teachers. Yes, some are better than others. Take some of the money saved and increase teacher salaries. Make it a career where you don’t have to take vows of poverty when you go in. Make it where they are not having to be there from 7am to 7pm with all the nonsense of playground duty and bus duty, after school tutoring, coaching extra curricular activities just to be able to pick up some money to make up for all the out of pocket spending they get stuck with in the classroom. Make it a job that people want rather than a job of last resort.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune: http://lowbudgetwoodworker.blogspot.com/

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oldnovice

3865 posts in 2114 days


#2 posted 03-12-2012 07:25 AM

I have to agree with both Mike and David. The rational of the republicans has always been to cut education as its not needed since they are the smart ones that run the country.

To add fuel to the misspent fire mentioned by David. The head of the San Clara school district was just hired at a salary of $299,500 with a $12,000 car allowance and some trivial perks for another $20,000 towards his retirement credits. This is good news as the previous superintendent was getting $332,600!

How many textbooks and computers can two thirds of that salary buy? The rational in this case is that to get results we need highly qualified people. These “people” never see the kids!!!!

In the end we will all pay for cutting education! What makes so difficult to compete with the Japanese, Chinese, and Taiwanese in technical and scientific areas is the fact that they prize education (sometimes to highly leading to suicides in Japan) above all. Germany is not far behind and they also have a lot of technical schools for those that do not/cannot go to a University.

If we want to maintain our technical edge, if we haven’t lost it yet, we need to focus on education. Perhaps we need to think outside the box and come up with a better way to teach!

Just for the heck of it take a look at this web site: Kahn

This started almost as a whim and now nearly every topic is covered. I am not saying that this is the answer but overcrowded class rooms are apparently not working very well either and, it doesn’t require a superintendent jut a bunch of IT guys.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

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redryder

2231 posts in 1848 days


#3 posted 03-12-2012 08:03 AM

God, won’t the election ever get here…..............

-- mike...............

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fussy

980 posts in 1796 days


#4 posted 03-12-2012 08:03 AM

Mike,

I have to agree with all of you so far. Having two daughters who are teachers (both with Masters and 4.0 in grad school, both with rank one, one with national board certification and the other working on it), and a wife who has taught in public schools for 25 years, and having had as teachers every female in my family for 3 generations, I can tell you that the roots of our educational malaise are deep and varied.

Begin with overpaid beuracrats and political lackeys using the schools as a spoils source for money. How about the parents who worry more about their baby’s feelings and sense of self worth than their ability to compete for and hold a job. And yes, the right wing has been trying to kill education for 50 or 60 years. Go back to Spiro T. Agnew’s trivialization of “pointy-headed liberal acadamicians”.

You’re absolutely right, Mike, that an ignorant populace is easy to manipulate. Just watch the poor ignorant schmucks jump up in rage and do the GOP’s dirty work for them and make sure taxes on the rich and mega corps stay low or dissapear. Watch them howl in fury until they have absolutely nothing and the rich have it all.

Schools in this country are in trouble, but the teachers are not at fault, although many have given up in frustration and are simply trying to survive until they can retire.

For an intriguing example of what dedicated teachers can do when the system works WITH THEM, check this article: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/people-places/Why-Are-Finlands-Schools-Successful.html

Steve

-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

View ShipWreck's profile

ShipWreck

536 posts in 2498 days


#5 posted 03-12-2012 10:07 AM

There are countries that spend 5 dollars for every 10 that we spend and thier kids are kicking ass. The politicians love to stand at the podium and tell you that they will improve our schools with XXXXXX amount of money, because they know most of us are too busy or too lazy to see what the problems really are.

Enrollment is up by 9% since 1970, while school employment has risen over 90%. A good many of these positions have nothing to do with teaching our children. This graph was prepared by Andrew J. Coulson and is widely regarded as accurate. We have almost 10 times more school employees and our kids are performing worse than in 1970.

My question is: Why are home schooled children out performing public school children? If money was the actual problem, then home school kids should fare far worse.

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

6968 posts in 1660 days


#6 posted 03-12-2012 02:41 PM

Shipwreck:Why are home schooled children out performing public school children?

Simple answer is THEY ARE NOT. But that does not stop the Republican propaganda machine from making you want to believe that they are.

Homeschoolers that I have personally known and dealt with, in both public and charter school environments, are a sad lot on average. The main reason for these parents to homeschool is because they become outraged when the school fails to “parent” their child like THEY want, or because they do not want THEIR child disciplined by the school, amoung other things. Don’t EVEN get me talking about bringing some individual’s peronal religion into the school and expecting the teachers to cater to THAT to the detrement of other students!

These cast-offs flowed into my (not mine personally, but the one I administered) charter school in droves, with attitudes and academic deficits that were/are staggering. Just what do you do with a 17-18 year old boy that barely performs at the 7th grade level… put him next to YOUR 13yr old daughter in the 7th grade classroom? Yeah, sure… (NOT!). And I saw this particular kind of student come through the doors frequently. The better funded, larger schools and school districts actively drive this type of student away from “their” schools and into the streets. THAT is just one of many issues that could/would be solved with better parenting and extended parental responsibilities.

You mention that employment in education has expanded at a disproportionate rate. I AGREE completely.

1. Let’s stop requiring schools to “parent” these kids. Change the laws and make parents take their little joy of discontent(child) to work with them when they misbehave at school. And yes, enforce this with truancy officers and parent citations.

2. Quit wasting all the Billion$ on sports and athletics. Think of all the money that is spent on bumper sticker parents who never attend their own child’s events yet want bragging rights around the water cooler or tail-gate. All that money spent on football, for example, just so a couple of dozen privately held professional football teams can have a large pool of wannabes to fill just ~600 professional player positions in the entire country! The same can be said for basketball, tennis, swimming, etc. Privately held businesses profiting from public school funds.

I could go on, but for now think about this…

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

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HorizontalMike

6968 posts in 1660 days


#7 posted 03-12-2012 02:50 PM

OldNovice,
Kahn Academy—I did catch this last evening. What a breath of fresh air to see the Internet used as it was designed, for free information sharing/education. I only fear that some greedy entity will incorporate this concept and again, fail to serve the poor and those in most need of education.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

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HorizontalMike

6968 posts in 1660 days


#8 posted 03-12-2012 03:13 PM

David,
I have always advocated for vocational training/education. I believe that the demise of this can be attributed to the rampent number of lawsuits from parents who were in denial that their own child may have diminished academic abilities and would be better suited in a particular trade. Many trades pay better than professional positions that require college degrees. Parents hate branding and/or ability testing. I personally think they all live in Garrison Keeler’s Lake Wobegon,

”...Welcome to Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average…”

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

15786 posts in 2964 days


#9 posted 03-12-2012 03:25 PM

I enjoyed the Kahn Academy story. He’s a local boy who graduated from the same high school as my wife.

As to your original point, I’ll just say that most politicians, regardless of party, don’t want the public to be educated about the inner workings of government. :-(

If you think the democratic party has pristine motives because it is always calling for more money to be spent of good causes like education, I think you are being a little naive. The republicans try to get votes by playing to peoples fear, ignorance, and prejudices. The democrats try to get votes by giving stuff away.

Different schtick…. same motive.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View jmos's profile

jmos

681 posts in 1115 days


#10 posted 03-12-2012 03:41 PM

I agree with Mike’s comment above, and in both of these education threads I don’t see enough about the parents role. I know it is terribly non-PC to say, but kids do well when their parents value education and support the kids at home. Teachers are terribly important, but can only do so much. This is one of the great fallacies with standardized student testing to evaluate teacher performance; if your teaching kids who don’t care, from families who don’t care, and communities that don’t care, your trying to piss up a rope. More money won’t change that. Better teachers will help a small amount, but not nearly enough.

I’m fortunate enough to have my kids in a district (in NJ) that spends well below the State average per pupil (~$11k vs ~$16k) but has terrific test scores, very low drop out rates, and 90+% of kids go to 4 year colleges. Why, because the whole community values education, parents are very involved, and kids are expected to learn. It’s not acceptable to do poorly (versus when I was a kid and the smart kids used to get beat up every day for showing up the other kids.)

I think teachers should be paid well; I have no issues with NJ teacher pay rates, which are very good. But just throwing more money at schools isn’t an answer. And yes, I believe this applies to both inner cities and rural schools, this is not just an inner city (read Black and Latino) problem.

Just imagine, if we, as a Nation, placed just half as much emphasis on academic performance as we do on athletics! What a wonderful world that would be.

-- John

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

6968 posts in 1660 days


#11 posted 03-12-2012 04:17 PM

Charley,
No niavity about the Dems, but I do believe that in today’s political climate the GOP is/are ”...trying to piss up a rope…” as John says above, when trying to drive educational policy, IMO.

FWIW, I know what it is like to work in an affluent school. I worked in the 8th largest school district in Texas for a decade, before moving to several other much smaller one HS districts and even into an inner-city charter school setting. I do have to say that the larger districts were much more cold-hearted in how they served poorer students than they were with squeeky rich parents. This ALWAYS upset me, especially since at any point in time only 25% of the population have kids enrolled in schools across the nation. The rest of the “public” abdicate any and all interest in the educational system.

I too would add a word of caution about being niave just because the proverbial you may live in an affluent school district. Unserved/underserved students are everyones problem, no matter where they currently reside. Those kids are only a short bus ride away from interacting with all others (be it positive or negative). I did not always feel that way, not until having run a school geared upon serving such needy students.

It all does go back to what John says about ”whole community values education”. The only issue I have with that is/are the tall fortress walls built around the edge of such school districts.

The only reason for having ~1,200 school district (in Texas for example) is to destabilize the teachers’/educators’ voting block. Heaven forbid that educators might organize and vote for REAL educational reform… Keep them poorly paid and throw them some political scraps once in a while to win votes (and I am talking about BOTH parties here).

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View jmos's profile

jmos

681 posts in 1115 days


#12 posted 03-12-2012 04:32 PM

I couldn’t agree more that poor education is everyone’s problem. If you don’t want to talk about the equality issues in providing everyone a good education so they can reach their full potential, just imagine the cost savings to taxpayers in providing a good education versus more police, more prisons, more unemployment/welfare/supplemental support. Education is an investment in our future, not a cost.

My main point about parental responsibility is that we need to do more to try to hold the parents accountable and encourage them to support their kids. I don’t claim to know the best way to do this, but I think it starts with getting in the parents faces and making it clear that they are at least as much to blame, if not more, than the schools. I’d be curious to know if there has been much research into providing support/training to parents and the impact on kids. As long as parents see schools as babysitters and surrogate parents, those districts are doomed.

-- John

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Bertha

12951 posts in 1439 days


#13 posted 03-12-2012 04:33 PM

Education is over-rated. We’re destined for anarchy anyway.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View HorizontalMike's profile

HorizontalMike

6968 posts in 1660 days


#14 posted 03-12-2012 04:45 PM

John,
It is no secret that Texas likes their “for-profit” private prisons. It plays right into their Republican run State government. Texas GOP would lock every dissenting voice up if they could. And they would do it, not for any sense of justice, but just for the profit motive. Hell, a Pennsilvania judge was even found guilty of stacking the juvinelle prison system with kids into a ‘private’ prison that the judge apparently had a financial interest in.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Bertha's profile

Bertha

12951 posts in 1439 days


#15 posted 03-12-2012 04:55 PM

Noun 1. dissenting opinion – an opinion that disagrees
I have one of these
Like I said, education is over-rated.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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