Thursday, September 28, 2006

A friend's thoughts

The article I sent around yesterday about the remarkable, innovative things Alberta is doing with its public school system triggered this response from a friend.  Food for thought...

Your point #2 below is the key to the whole proposition.  If you could truly reform the public school system, the private schools would not be able to compete, and we would actually end up with a society with more opportunity for everyone, not just those who can afford to send their children to private schools (as you and I do).

The US school system used to be the envy of the world and the true engine of our economic growth and global pre-eminence.  Since the ‘60s, however, it has become the home of far too many unaccountable, unmotivated union employees who believe that their primary purpose is to teach politics.  Teaching ideology is easy as it requires no ability to think or reason -- in fact, it is actually anti-reason (for further reference on this, please note the Madras schools for young Muslims which supplanted the excellent British School system in Pakistan and elsewhere).

But rather than embrace the kind of initiatives that are working so well in Alberta and elsewhere, the NEA just wants us to spend more and more and more.  Insolent, insular, insulting and outrageous.

If you want to see the impact of labor unions and the dysfunctional senior management teams that feed and nurture them, just look at the US and German auto industries -- once the envy of the world, now threatened with extinction.

Now here is the most interesting angle. Reforming our public school system is critically important because it is important to:

-          global competition

-          true equality of opportunity

-          a better-informed citizenry and electorate

-          stronger civil society.

These are very traditional, long-term American values.

The problem we have, however, is that the Republicans are inebriated with power and increasingly (and shockingly, but not surprisingly) big government solutions, while the Democrats are inebriated with the desire to gain power and the need to rely upon teachers’ unions, government workers’ unions and trial lawyers to achieve power (not to mention the Democratic Party’s leaders’ condescending social and political attitudes towards anyone who wants to either shop at, or work at, a Wal-Mart).

But here’s the good news:

Americans throughout the country, especially middle Americans, still believe in the four principles described above, and they could be energized to support most of what you believe in.  So it’s not too late, but it is certainly getting late.

The real question:  How to energize and galvanize these folks?

If our political leaders were not so stunted as individuals, and hemmed in institutionally by the forces described above, at least one of them would get on, and lead, this bandwagon.  Abraham Lincoln, FDR, JFK, or Ronald Reagan certainly would not have missed this golden opportunity.

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