Dubious Praise

This week the vaunted magazine, “The Economist” featured an article on the schools here in Wake County:

…In 2000 Wake County’s school board decided to integrate its schools by income level rather than race. No more than 40% of students at any one school should be receiving free or subsidised lunches (which are given to children from poor families). Evidence dating back more than 40 years shows that schools with too great a concentration of poor pupils are undesirable. Teachers do not stay, and poor pupils tend to perform worse when they are put with others who are poor.

…on March 23rd the board voted 5-4 to abandon that policy.

How to educate our youth?  Can we?  Should we?  It’s pretty clear that we have to.  And it’s equally clear that we aren’t.  We are falling further and further behind other nations in growing mathematicians, scientists and engineers.  What was once our strength is very rapidly becoming our handicap.  But why?  Ii think it’s because of a deadly combination:  A state run educational system managed by non-professional educators.  It’s as if a group of folks got into a room and thought of the worst way in which to educate kids.

First.  The state.  The state hires union teachers to work it’s schools.  See here and here for my thoughts on union represented teachers.  So we start out behind the 8-ball.  Our schools are chuck full of old teachers who may or may not be the best teachers available.  Further, because they have the unions on their side, the schools are forced to abide by such silly regulations as to how long a school day can be, how soon school can start in the fall and how late it can go in the spring.

The unions can control the ability of the administration to dictate a philosophy when it comes to techniques, curriculum and methods.

In short, the union prevent innovation and evolution.  It is the friend of the status quo.

Second.  The board.  Jeez.  Can there be a worse method of running a school?  This is the ultimate in Prom Queen.  The folks elected to the board have no more idea of a quality education than the average voter of American Idol.  These folks in many cases are simply ill prepared to manage an organization as large and complex as a schools district.

In the end?  We are left with a system that is managed by the state, taught by the unions and managed by popular opinion.

Can you think of a worse way to run a school?

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