CONTROL OF AMERICAN PUBLIC EDUCATION
BY THE U.S. NATIONAL GOVERNMENT
By Alan Caruba
Moreover, the public schools cannot begin the day with a prayer and, in a growing number of school districts, they cannot sing traditional Christmas carols. Something is desperately wrong.
What are we doing about it? Nothing. Well, not quite nothing. The national government is throwing billions of dollars at programs it knows are failures, while conjuring up new programs that are so frightening it defies the imagination.
Twenty million dollars in congressional grants will go to the New Freedom Commission to fund, among other things, universal “mental health” screening and treatment of school children, a program that includes prescribing ineffective and dangerous medications. An additional two million in grants was authorized for local educational systems and non-profit entities to treat teenagers judged to be “suffering from mental, emotional, or behavior disorders.”
The U.S. Department of Education is spending $5 million on “Mental Health Integration in Schools,” as well as another million dollars for U.S. Senator Teddy Kennedy’s early childhood mental health program, called “Foundations for Learning.” All this is a boon to the pharmaceutical industry, but a horror for America's children and youth, whose mental health is NOT the school’s responsibility. It is just one more effort to wrest control of a parent’s fundamental rights and responsibility over the welfare of their young son or daughter.
It’s estimated that somewhere between six and seven million school children and youth have been administered mind-altering medications. How many parents have been coerced or seduced into approving this is unknown, but some of these drugs produce suicidal thoughts.
Children and youth in America’s public schools are not all suffering from some mental health problem, unless you include the boredom that ensues from use of the “teach from the test” method, the method to which students are subjected in order to enable them to pass the many standardized, national tests required by the No Child Left Behind program. In its first term, the Bush administration has strengthened national governmental control over the public schools, neglecting and departing from the aspirations of Ronald Reagan to actually rid the nation of the U.S. Department of Education.
The fact that the nearly 52 million children and youth in public schools do not all learn at the same rate is ignored. Any information not reflected on the tests tends to get ignored because those test scores are tied to funding. NCLB is as cruel and stupid a program as could have been devised, and it has cost American taxpayers some $50 billion. Not surprisingly, many school districts have opted out of the program to avoid the stifling effect on their curricula.
The simple unavoidable truth, documented year after year, is that America’s school children and youth continue to perform poorly, when compared to school children and youth in most other nations. Recently, a Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, a test of mastery of school curriculum content taught in all participating countries, curriculum content including chemistry, physics, geometry and algebra, revealed that the test scores of U.S. fourth graders had remained stagnant and below average yet again. The 2003 test results revealed that American eighth graders are just barely keeping up in mathematics, compared to students at the same grade level in 44 other countries.
Recent National Education Assessments continue to demonstrate that only 31% of America's fourth graders are proficient in reading; only 32% of fourth graders are proficient in mathematics; only 29% in science, and only 18% in American history. Virtually every scholarly evaluation of history textbooks finds them terribly flawed and inaccurate.
Worse, the national government is funding a private group, the Center for Civic Education, which is publishing a proposed national curriculum on the U.S. Constitution, a curriculum which , if adopted and implemented, would undermine a student’s understanding of the Bill of Rights (one lone mention of the Second Amendment) and would subtly instill into school children's minds the concept of world citizenship, as opposed to the concept of being a citizen of a sovereign United States of America. This standardization of education about the U.S. Constitution teaches a version of political allegiance approved by America's "politically correct" Liberal Leftist, internationalist elites and imposed on school children and youth through prograns of political indoctrination approved and funded by the central government -- and nothing could be more un-American than that.
Remember: The U.S. Constitution makes no provision for the national government to be involved in education. That is a power that belongs exclusively to the states and local communities.
Usurpers invading the sphere of American education include the United Nations as well as the U.S. central government. The United Nations has gained a foothold in our schools with its International Baccalaureate program, underwritten by UNESCO. Writing about the IB program earlier this year, one critic wrote her local newspaper to point out that “Administrators do not tell you that the current IB program for ages three through grade twelve promotes socialism, disarmament, radical environmentalism and moral relativism, while attempting to undermine Christian religious values and the concept of national sovereignty.” And, of course, we all want the UN to be involved in the education of American children and youth, don’t we? NOT!
In 2002, American taxpayers, at the national governmental level, spent an estimated $108 billion on education. Nearly half of this money was distributed by the U.S. Department of Education, but other federal departments, including Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Labor, Defense and Interior, also spent large amounts of money on education. Fifty-three billion dollars of federal money went to elementary and secondary school programs, and half of that sum was spent on programs under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind) and on special and vocational education.
And every school day, an estimated 3,000 secondary school students drop out of school. During the 2003-2004 school year, nearly 54,000 young people left without earning a high school diploma. Not that the diploma means much these days. Colleges and universities routinely provide remedial programs to help students secure the skills which they were supposed to have acquired in in the elementary and secondary schools (but didn't) and which they need in order to master the subject-matter content of the courses taught in institutions of higher education.
What is the reason for this sorry state of affairs in American elementary and secondary education? Is it because teachers are underpaid? No! The average salary for public elementary and secondary school teachers is $44,367. Salaries in the 100 largest cities range from $25,409 to $84,310. To put it another way, teachers earn more on an hourly basis than accountants, computer programmers, engineers, and architects.
Are class sizes too large? The average pupil-teacher ratio at public schools is 15.9 to one. For public elementary schools it’s 21 to one, and it’s 23 to one in public secondary schools. Teachers are being encouraged to be “facilitators,” as students are organized to teach one another. Apparently the notion of a teacher at the front of the classroom is just passé.
The list of educational deprivations of our nation’s children and youth is a long one, but the message is clear. The national government has to get out of the education business! There is, intentionally, no basis for it in the American Constitution.
Schools are failing the children, and a radical return to tried-and-true pedagogic methods that educated Americans prior to the 1960s must become the standard again. Power over the schools must be returned to the states and local communities.
The National Education Association, a mainstay of the Democratic Party and a major part of the political and cultural Left in the U.S.A., must answer for its funding and participation in political campaigns and its influence over achool curricula must end.
Until and unless this occurs, every student passing through the current educational system is being indoctrinated, not educated.
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