Education 2016: An Agenda for the Next President
The Republican Party has a unique opportunity in 2016 to advance an educational agenda which will improve our public schools. Given the spending habits of groups like the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers and their state affiliates, one can expect enormous attacks. Greater than 90% of the NEA’s political advocacy donations go to Democrats. Opensecrets.org ranks the NEA as the 4th largest donor in the United States in any election cycle. Almost all of their receipts are collected from members with the remainder being grants from Left leaning organizations.
There are two kinds of teachers which this writer divides into the “reality teachers” and the “bubble teachers.” The reality teachers have worked in the real world before becoming teachers. They are more accepting of change and reforms and tend to be more conservative in their outlook. They, having worked in the real world, realize that they have many advantages workers in the real world lack- guaranteed raises, job security through tenure, lucrative pension and health benefits and, comparatively speaking, a favorable work schedule. Bubble teachers, on the other hand, have spent their entire working lives in the educational bubble. They take on a new vocabulary and language (vocabulary is “word study,” a block of learning is a “workshop,” grading systems are a “rubric”). They are less resistant to change. They tow the union line and speak the union’s speech.
Politically, the reality contingent tends to be either Republican or a moderate Democrat. The education cult member is almost socialist. That is because they have been indoctrinated since college to think a certain way. This has been so ingrained on their psyches that their political views come seeping through. I will never forget stickers placed on file cabinets in one teacher’s room saying “Starve Christie” and a student asking if they could go to Trenton to kill Christie because this teacher blamed Christie for the school not having a soccer program the following year (by the way, they DID have soccer the following year).
For the most part, we cannot do too much about these people. No amount of logic or persuasion is going to undo years of brainwashing at the hands of the liberal educational complex. However, we can weaken their hold by appealing to those wishing to enter the field of teaching and those in the reality group. Conservatives must stress that they have nothing against teachers per se, but also illustrate that teacher unions do not really have their interests at heart. We must show how conservative policies would actually empower teachers in the classroom. We can start with a total repudiation of mandates from Washington DC. That means a rejection of Common Core. If there is one thing that is universal among the reality people and the education cult it is their opposition to and disdain of Common Core. Restoring everything from curriculum standards to textbook selection to what and how something is taught should be “dictated” at the local level provided there are some minimal standards. How we get 4 from 2+2 should be a straightforward proposition, not one requiring ten days of instruction. Let us allow teachers to teach the ways they know best and the ways that are proven effective.
It is important the entire message be dedicated to the proposition that the GOP is not against teachers. However, the teacher unions must be portrayed as being the biggest obstruction to true educational reform. In the previous articles, I have attempted to show how vouchers would decrease public school class size- something the unions themselves favor.
The ultimate goal is to empower teachers, parents and students and the best way to do this is through choice. For teachers, it is encouraging them to advance in their respective fields by rewarding not experience or credentials or level of college education, but demonstrated performance. We need to streamline the process by which people enter the teaching profession.
There is no doubt that the NEA and others will come after the eventual Republican candidate with all their propaganda guns blazing. It is vitally important that the GOP be prepared for this eventuality. History dictates that they will support Clinton 100%. After all, public schools are the linchpins in Hillary’s “It takes a village to raise a child” meme. The GOP needs to blast away at that theme by empowering parents with choice. Does any parent really want their child raised by “the village?”
We need to stress the inherent racism of NEA and liberal opposition to vouchers and school choice programs. These programs are designed specifically to help minority populations that lag behind the general population in academic achievement. Where vouchers have been used, their target has been minority or low income students. Virtually every parent who was a beneficiary sung its praises. After all, it is minority and low income students who have “been left behind.” The answer is not money; the answer is choice. Hispanics, in particular, play education high on their list of priorities. What better way to pry Democratic hands off that demographic than by highlighting their inherent racism in keeping children bound to failing public schools?
We must spell out the role of the federal Department of Education. Some have argued for its outright abolition. This writer sees a new role by decreasing federal control and funding of K-12 education. With less funding comes less mandates which cuts costs for school districts. The federal Department should concentrate on higher education and vocational and job training programs. Not every student in elementary or secondary schools will go to college, but that does not mean they cannot be meaningful participants in society. There will always be a need for jobs that do not require a college career, many of which that pay well and many of which are union jobs.
Finally, when all else fails it must be remembered that there are more taxpayers than there are teachers in the NEA and AFT combined. Demanding cost effectiveness in public schools- if they are to receive federal funds- is a must. Taxpayers must see a return on their investment. Over 50 years of the failed liberal model has proven to be a costly mistake. It is clearly time to change course and that course cannot be changed with Hillary Clinton in the White House.