by Leigh Bravo 2/26/14
What is happening to our Education System? What has happened to the Free Enterprise System? Where these two issues intersect, we find some interesting debates and positions on what America needs to do to improve our position in the Global Education battle.
Recently, a study released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development showed that despite having higher-than-average levels of educational attainment, adults in the US have below-average basic literacy and numeracy skills. The US ranked 16th out of 23 countries in literacy proficiency, 21st out of 23 in numeracy proficiency, and 14th out of 23 in problem solving in technology rich environments.
Black and Hispanic adults in the US are 3-4 times more likely to have poor skills than white adults. The survey and educational experts agree that the report is a stark reminder of the state of American education and should prompt a re-examination of how eduction is delivered. This information was used to push for the “Common Core” standards in K-12 education. But Common Core is another topic for discussion that focuses on government developing and forcing yet another educational system, when it has failed miserably with all other attempts.
President Obama has traveled across the country stating that “inequality in opportunity” is one of his top priorities. All Americans should have equal access to good education and training to prepare themselves and their children for the future. However, does his position match his actions towards this goal?
Let’s start in Louisuana where the school voucher program is flourishing and 90% of users partaking in this educational upgrade system are poverty-level Americans. The majority of students taking advantage of the voucher program currently live in areas where their neighborhood schools are rated “C” “D” or “F”. The voucher program has offered them the “opportunity,” as President Obama has stated, to improve their future by choosing to educate their children at a school that offers the opportunity to gain entry into college, and be competitive with those from better school systems.
So let’s look deeper and question why Eric Holder in the Department of Justice, under Obama’s direction, has pursued legal action to shut down the voucher system there and in other locations around the United States. Why would a President promoting equal opportunity for all Americans vehemently seek to shut down the very system that offers that equal opportunity in education to all Americans, but especially those who have the least access to it? Obviously, the government lost its attempt to stop the free education choices of it’s citizens in the face of simple common sense. However, the fight continues around the US.
Let’s look at another example of government’s “war” on improved free enterprise education systems in Milwaukee. St. Marcus Lutheran is one of Milwaukee’s most successful private schools. With a graduation rate of over 90%, citizens within the Parental Choice Program have lined up to get their children into the school that educates 730 students from grades K through 8. Those wanting to get into the school represent 89% low income families and are 90% black. Aren’t these the Americans Obama is speaking to regarding equal opportunity?
Currently, the school district where St. Marcus resides has 15 schools standing empty. St. Marcus has made an offer to purchase one of these vacant buildings for $1.25 million and pledged another $5-7 million toward improvements. However, although the waiting list for St. Marcus has literally hundreds of lower income kids lining up for a chance to get in, the public school system decided to sell the building to developers for $2 million. The Developers plan on tearing down half the school for housing and retail and then leasing back the other half to the failing school system at the cost of $4 million.
Is this fair to the taxpayer in Wisconsin? Is this advantageous to the public seeking to improve their educational outlook? Is this the action of a government wanting to offer “equal opportunity” to all? Why would the government not seek to improve the educational outlook for the people while bringing in a profit on the sale of taxpayer-funded property? According to Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, the school system is trying to prevent school charters from getting their vacant school buildings because they run the threat of drawing kids out of their failing schools and opting for the success of the private, charter schools. The school system has attached deed restrictions to future sales of the failing publicly-owned schools so they cannot be sold for “competing use.” The public school board president, Michael Bonds, said “letting private education success stories to flourish would be like asking the Coca Cola Company to turn over it’s facilities to Pepsi.”
Does our government, under the control of Barack Obama and the Department of Justice under Eric Holder, really believe that school vouchers, which have helped get kids out of failing public schools and into successful private schools, actually lead to racial segregation? Or is there a fear that successful private schools will actually force the shutdown of public schools, therefore causing the loss of teacher’s jobs and the end of the teacher’s union as we know it?
Whatever argument you believe, whatever political affiliation you may have, we are definitely at odds over what the government claims it wants for the American public and it’s actions in actually achieving them. Have our fearless leaders passed over the American dream in order to satisfy the needs and wants of the Political machine? I think they have!
Leigh Bravo blogs at The Trumpet. • (858 views)