Thursday, January 24, 2013

Unringing The School Bell

A fully mature bureaucracy always maximizes positive outcomes for the organization and the bureaucrats that run it with almost no remaining substantive connection to the original mission. These organizations flourish in government since the competitive environment of free markets tends to weed out organizations that no longer serve a need and government is widely known to never solve a problem and dissolve the agency chartered to address an issue. Think Rural Electrification Administration -- are there not lights in Podunk, Ga?

For most of us the largest government entity that touches our lives are Public Schools and they have matured into exclusively self-serving bureaucracies and it isn't just DeKalb, this is true everywhere. And this goes beyond the school house or even "The Palace".  The non-functioning bureaucracy has built its own ecosystem that includes colleges granting questionable teaching degrees to questionable graduates, textbook and test publishers, unions defeating all attempts at meritocracy, training and consulting groups, modern day snake oil salesmen hawking technology and educational packages, and even architects and builders who have established that schools are "special". All the while these educrats and hangers-on have co-opted the public, particularly parents, on the notion that it is "all about ``our'' children" leveraging the unquestioned precept that there is a societal obligation for everyone to pay for anyone's children.

Public Schools have also expanded their scope of "services" diluting their original mission and reducing, by that dilution, their accountability for "job one" -- education. This is not a recent development. And the public/parents are OK with that. Try pondering with friends or colleagues about "what would happen if we simply shut down the public schools, kids aren't learning anything anyway" and sooner or later someone will pipe up with "well what are those kids going to do all day"? It turns out "stay home with a parent" is no longer an acceptable notion and we in America have truly created a nanny state.

Sooner or later reality will force us to realize that Public Schools are fundamentally and fatally flawed when it comes to educating children. There is no fixing them. It is a difficult and painful realization, but it is nonetheless inevitable--these schools cannot be fixed if by fixed we mean "deliver a world-class education". We can recognize them for what they are -- government daycare -- and deal with the issue of educating children separately.

Once we accept that reality there is much we can do to address the extreme costs and gross inefficiencies of this secondary government. We've already dismissed the notion that "teachers" need to understand the subject matter they teach. In reality they are not teaching so it doesn't really matter and the current education ecosystem acknowledges this.

Consider this. A major Georgia institution will graduate elementary school "teachers" equipped with a shiny new "elementary-education" degree who do not understand fractions. No one is alarmed. These individuals will have a college degree and do not understand fourth grade math and no one is alarmed. They graduated from high school without understanding fourth grade math and no one is alarmed. They graduated from eighth grade with no clue about fourth grade math and no one is alarmed. They were promoted from fourth grade to fifth grade ignorant of material just covered and no one is alarmed. And that is proof positive that Public Schools are far separated from learning and they have spewed forth enough ignorant generations to become fully self-perpetuating. This is not a confederacy of dunces it is an incestuous community of idiots.

The facts are undeniable. These are not educators and should not be paid as if they were, instead they should be paid like the babysitters they really are. We can also dismiss the ancillary costs that come with pretending learning is a part of the program. We are pouring over $300K into each classroom when what we need is someone who can keep the inmates from harming one another. That is not a $300K proposition and we should be able to babysit and feed these children for far less. Yes, it is now a government responsibility to feed children at Public Schools and since the program is unaudited we are left to assume it is as corrupt as every other Public School endeavor.

The sooner we move forward embracing what Public Schools have transformed themselves into the sooner some parents will wake up and take charge of their children's future.