Monday, December 3, 2012

Better Teachers Not More Teachers

Among the many discussions on governance is the one that most likely spurns some of the more emotional investment -- Education.

Higher education students, most of which are voting age, worry about paying their tuition, acquiring employment, and paying back their student loans. They also worry about having the federal government force people to pay for part of their educations. If you doubt that, go to a more left-leaning college campus and ask the students if they feel that more tax money should go to paying for their education.

However, you get to a more local level, and education can spurn even more heated debate. The reason is that there is still a certain amount of the old 10th Amendment lingering that makes public school education mostly (just barely) a primarily state and local issue.

Among the largest argument you hear from local and state politicians, on both sides of the aisle, are calls for education spending. After all, "It's For The Kids". Nobody will disagree that educating our children is important.

Many, primarily on the left, argue for a need for more teachers. They will argue that they need a smaller teacher to student ratio so that our kids get more direct attention. They will argue that class sizes are larger and more teachers are needed to keep class sizes at levels they were ten years ago.

Next they argue that teachers aren't paid enough. In the 1970s, this may have been the case. Today, in San Antonio, TX, your average entry-level teacher starts with a pay, pension, and benefits package worth over $70. The average public school teacher in San Antonio makes about $70k a year, not counting those benefits.

Add that information together and the writing on the wall is clear. The unions, who lobby and line socialist politicians' pockets, want those nice, high salaries. They want increased employment of teachers. Why? The combination of those means more money to the union administrators, and more money to put into socialist politicians' campaign coffers. They do this so they can repeat the cycle with larger gains the next go-around.

Also, do a little digging into how their pension funds are managed. Usually, it is managed by the union. the union usually also controls their health care benefits. So, they garner even more for managing those. As a capitalist, I can appreciate the desire for profit. However, as a true capitalist, I also shudder at the Ponzi schemes and unethical business practices involved, especially since, in most states, teachers must join the unions in order to work. That is not capitalism. It is a monopoly that supports instilling a tyrannic oligarchy.

Those pensions, by the way, are responsible to a ridiculous percentage of public debt at the local and state levels. Most union teachers in most localities do not pay a red cent into their pensions. Tax-payers pay for all of it. They have no personal stake in their own retirement futures. They believe that we owe them. In addition, once they have tenure, it is almost impossible to fire them for incompetence. Some have even been found guilty of crimes ranging from fraud to sexual assault, yet still manage to receive pension checks larger than a 25-year military retiree.  

Good teachers deserve just compensation for their labor. If the market value for their labor equates to that amount, good for them. 

But there are those precious not-as-few-as-there-should-be poor teachers. There are those who do not teach. They preach. They indoctrinate. They lie to students. They do as little as possible. Then they cry that the policies and the materials are to blame. Do not even dare to counter their diatribes with the fact the Abraham Lincoln was largely home-schooled, and he went on to pass the Bar exam (and later, become a US President). Do not remind them that Tim Tebow was home-schooled. Do not confront them with the fact that home schooled students, who have fewer resources available than public school students, and less funding per capita for those students, somehow seem to out-perform public school graduates in college.

Then you have schools and teachers who seek to get your students accustomed to tyranny. In some schools in San Antonio, TX, students are forced to walk through the halls employing "Hallway Hands". "Hallway hands" will look very familiar to cage-kickers and prison inmates. ("Cage-kicker" is a euphemism for a prison guard). For those who spent time in the military, "hallway hands" is walking while simultaneously at the position of "parade rest". In short, the students must walk with their hands interlocked behind their backs as though they are cuffed. Yes, students are treated as though they are prisoners. Prisoners violated the law are were incarcerated as part of their punishments. They deserve the restriction of certain rights since they sought, through their crimes, to deprive others of their natural rights. However, these kids in public schools did no such thing. No, this "hallway hands" is just a power-ploy meant to indoctrinate the students into being good little slaves to their government masters.

In Northside Independent School District, San Antonio, TX, you have socialist indoctrinators  school administrators and teachers "tagging" the students as though they are cattle. They do this so they know where the students are at all times, and to justify their daily share of tax money at a rate of about $3 a day per student. it isn't about student safety. it isn't about better education or services to the students or their parents. It is about justifying stealing more money from the tax-payers regardless of how well they perform their jobs.

This morning, I read an article in the Daily Caller.  A second-grade comprachico in Irvine, TX thought she would teach her victims students  about merit. Teaching merit and earning is important. It builds responsibility and accountability. However, a seven-year-old should not have to earn the right to use a rest room. Some seven-year-old children are still developing their renal and urological systems. In addition, forcing children to "hold it" can lead to health problems. It can cause kidney and bladder damage. It can cause damage to the prostate. It can lead to urinary tract infections. It can cause erectile dysfunction to manifest later in life. In short, it is medically unsafe to force them to "hold it", especially for hours.

In a warm state such as Texas (even worse, in more arid states such as Arizona), kids require more hydration. Proper hydration should lead to kids having to "go number one" about once an hour, and have it relatively clear. In addition, poor hydration can lead to heat injuries. It can lead to poor neurological function as synapses lack the fluid necessary to reset. That means slowed learning as well as slowed reactions. So, the kids need to be getting enough water. Along with getting that adequate water intake comes a necessity for frequent (about once an hour) trips to the rest room. 

Examples such as these, and others I reported on in the past, demonstrate one need when it comes to education. We do not need more teachers and administrators. We need better quality control of those we, the tax-payers, currently employ. We have teachers in Arizona who cannot pass a language competency exam at a sixth-grade level, yet are responsible for teaching our kids basic spelling and grammar skills. Fire them for incompetence. We have teachers telling our kids lies about recycling and global warming. They do not tell the kids that these things are still in high debate in the scientific community with loads of data on both sides of the argument. The actual answer is "we do not know". But they lie and tell the kids otherwise. Fire them for lying. We have teachers telling kids that it is wrong to practice their religion in public and they should be ashamed to do so. As government employees, they violate the First Amendment when they do so. Fire them. They teach that the US Constitution is a "guideline" instead of being the supreme law of the land. Fire them.

Teachers are not supposed to be surrogate parents. Do not be so lazy that you let them be. As parents, be involved. Take a morning off from work every few weeks and sit in on your kids' classes. Go to school board meetings and make your voice heard. Write the elected school board officials and tell them what you, the consumer, the one paying their paychecks, their boss, want and don't want. Next, lobby your state-level representatives. make your state a "right to work" state, if it isn't already. This will help take back the running of the schools away from the unions and put it back into the hands of the tax-paying parents.

Each year, teachers should be required to take a certification test. This should not be some national standard. Each state or local district should come up with its own exam. Included in that exam should be questions that support the desires of the teachers' employers (the tax payers). And teachers should be paid by the student and the progress of each student. Much of the way things are now need to go back to the days of Ichabod Crane, when the teachers knew their place as employees, and by whom they were employed, and were paid according to their achievements.