Bunker Mulligan "Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry." ~Mark Twain

April 21, 2005

Give me your money

Filed under: Education — Bunker @ 5:32 am

Here we go again. The NEA is using member dues to sue the new Secretary of Education.

Leading the fight is the National Education Association, a union of 2.7 million members and a political adversary of the administration. The union mobilized its forces for Democrat John Kerry in the 2004 presidential race, and its objections to Bush’s law prompted former Education Secretary Rod Paige to call the NEA a “terrorist organization.”

What has their collective panties in a wad?

The lawsuit accuses the government of shortchanging schools by at least $27 billion, the difference between the amount Congress authorized and what it has spent.

You knew it had to be money.

I don’t think the Federal Government has any authority to be involved in education. That sentence will draw cheers from NEA activists. What won’t, though, is that the Federal Government has no authority to disburse taxpayer money to schools. What the NEA want, as do administrators across the country, is the money without the requirements. They want the Feds involved in education, but only want them involved to give schools money, not to set standards. And if Congress approves money to be portioned out, they expect the Department of Education to spend every single penny–and ask for more.

Ah, but don’t set any standards or levy any requirements in exchange for that money. They don’t like standards. Like all unions, their primary purpose is to protect the incompetent members of that union. Never mind that they fail to recognize those who do well. In fact, those who excel are looked upon as troublemakers–they show up the bad ones and make it more difficult for them to hide.

Money, money, money. What have our schools done with the money we’ve given them? They’ve gotten worse. Money is not the solution.

There is a way for the schools to not have to comply with Federal standards, and it is a simple thing to do. It requires no law suit. Simply refuse to accept Federal money, and you don’t have to comply with Federal mandate.

Right. Like that would happen.


  1. I used to be agnostic on the school subject. No kids, so no experience.

    But I’m helping my niece with her homework now, and I’m flabbergasted at how far things have fallen since I went to high school. It’s no wonder the schools don’t want standards: if I had to grade her school, it would be a flat out F.

    But I’m not (just) going to blame the NEA. The school board had a hand in approving the lousy textbooks. The school board decided, in their infinite wisdom, that students don’t actually need text books of their own that they can bring home and use in their homework.

    I could go on. And I plan to, when I get more time. But I’m starting to doubt that schools today deserve to get ANY money.

    Comment by UML Guy — April 21, 2005 @ 10:06 am

  2. Give me your money

    Here’s something you don’t see every day….

    Trackback by News from Around the World — April 21, 2005 @ 10:49 am

  3. You might check the stuff I’ve posted at my other site. I’ve tried to be involved with improving education here, but all they want to talk about is money. Something there you will appreciate:

    I have to say that all the people I dealt with care about education. But they have no other experience to provide context. They also believe, strongly, that you cannot possibly be a quality teacher unless you have that certificate from a state-run institution. Of course, those of us in the outside world have attended many classes taught by extremely capable teachers who might not even have had a degree. And they had to be good or they didn’t have a job.

    Comment by Bunker — April 21, 2005 @ 5:07 pm

  4. Now, see, Bunker, you didn’t tell me what that site was about. I ignored it, because I unfortunately have nothing to do with Corpus Christi. Now I find that you’re discussing a whole lot of stuff, with Corpus Christi merely as a unifying theme or springboard.

    And yes, it’s frustrating. I spent some time this weekend trying to explain to my niece why I can’t be a substitute teacher at her school. I could explain the rules; but given how lousy her science teacher is (I understood physics better when I was 10), I can’t easily justify the rules.

    But now I want to defend the teachers just a little bit:

    “Of course, those of us in the outside world have attended many classes taught by extremely capable teachers who might not even have had a degree. And they had to be good or they didn’t have a job.”

    But we have advantages that the teachers in public schools don’t have. First, we’re teaching adults and professionals. Behavioral problems are practically nonexistent. Second, either our students paid good money to be there, or their bosses paid good money for them to be there, and are paying them to be there. That’s a motivation filter: people who aren’t motivated to learn the material will be far less likely to attend. And third, at least in my case, I’m a geek talking to geeks. I reach geeks. Heck, I’m practically a geek archetype. If I had to reach a more general audience, I would probably be far less successful. The only measure I have for this is when I have taught programming exercises to middle school and high school girls for Punctilious’s science fair. But that’s still a select group of girls interested in science, so they’re at least half-geeks (though never tell them I called them that).

    Good teachers have skills/training that I envy: how to empathize with and motivate all sorts of students. Not just mature students, not just motivated students, and not students who think the way they do, but ALL students. Those are the gems of the teaching profession, the ones you never forget.

    Sadly, those aren’t the average teacher…

    Comment by UML Guy — April 22, 2005 @ 9:43 am

  5. Ah, but don’t sell yourself short. And you don’t need to defend teachers–I do that a lot. I just don’t agree that the skills to teach can only be learned at the education department of a university. Most parents learn those skills OJT.

    The problem we have in public education is that there is an arrogance borne in ignorance. When you teach, you understand your limitations and can take advice (I would guess–since you continue to teach!). Those in government education are certain that the rest of us don’t grasp the full situation because we aren’t credentialed. And quality is determined only in terms of certification. Even though I’ve been able to teach those students they were incapable of reaching or unwilling to reach (cast off to a private military school), I am viewed as an outsider, just like anyone else.

    Until the education establishment is beaten down enough to finally listen, there will be no change for the good. We’ve tried everything else to get them to listen.

    For the most part, the issues of student motivation and behavior are parent-induced. Mom and Dad need to make things happen so that teachers can do the actual job of teaching their subject, and not have to tutor social skills. That’s what Bill Cosby rails about.

    Comment by Bunker — April 22, 2005 @ 10:54 am

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