Thoughts On “The Education Mess” Pt 2 – Romney Steps In It

Share Button

Here are my Thoughts On “The Education Mess” Pt 1.


A friend pointed me to this article on something Romney said that has various people up in arms. The article starts in this way:

Republicans always say they want to get the federal government out of education. This comes in many forms, but usually they say something like “education should be returned to local control” or “I’ll eliminate the Department of Education.” They always avoid talking about union-busting because union-busting is not always especially popular. Wisconsin’s Governor Walker can attest to that. Romney, in a rare moment of transparency, told Bret Baier that the reason for returning control of education to the states is for one reason: to union-bust.

Then, they offer Romney’s offending quote:

But the role I see that ought to remain in the president’s agenda with regards to education is to push back against the federal teachers unions. Those federal teachers unions have too much power, in some cases, they overwhelm the states, they overwhelm the local school districts. We have got to put the kids first and put these teacher’s unions behind.

The article continues:

I’m sick and tired of seeing teacher’s unions demonized, and even more tired of seeing teachers shamed and demonized. There’s been a theme that Democrats and Republicans alike have adopted where teachers are the reason for problems in the schools. Teachers are not the problem. I would argue that teachers have been the backstop to keeping schools from deteriorating in the face of constant budget cuts, student poverty, larger classroom sizes, and not enough parent involvement. I don’t necessarily blame parents for that, by the way. When you’re working two jobs to make the house payments it’s tough to head down to your kids’ school or constantly nag about homework. The problem in the schools right now is not teachers’ unions, either. The problem in the schools is that for ten years, teachers have been forced to teach to a test and “one size fits all” standards. They are accountable for an arbitrarily set baseline, regardless of circumstances in their specific area. As we’ve all discovered, that baseline does not necessarily reflect reality or the students they’re instructing, or the environments they’re teaching in. Yet their job hinges on meeting those standards. If they don’t, they’re out.

On the last paragraph, I couldn’t agree more. Those of us who have been in a school as a teacher have seen the folly of No Child Left Behind first hand. If most schools approach NCLB like the one I taught in, they will have a similar experience. The school does not just say one day everyone has to take the standardized tests and be done with it. Here is the little secret many don’t know about how schools and school districts handle the NCLB tests; the school have the students in about every class cram to achieve the highest score possible. There is a lot of prep involved. Basically teachers have to drop what ever it is you’re doing, what ever lesson you happen to be trying to teach at the time, and for up to two weeks try and cram as much knowledge into the students head on materials likely to be on the test. Now, we don’t know the exact questions – those are kept secret – but we do know the general themes. And, since most of the test is multiple choice, you can also teach some pattern recognition. For instance, we tell them if they are unsure about an answer but think that there is one choice that seems more politically correct than the others, then that is likely the right answer. Now, some students don’t have as much awareness as others on matters of political incorrectness, but that will help some, as the tests are designed by people who take PC very seriously. And then, when it’s all over, the teachers have go back and rehash everything that we were working on before we were interrupted by the NCLB tests. Look, we have no problems with tests. But this is not an ordinary test. Because the teacher nor the student can ever see the results of the individual tests, there is no way to assess what each individual student may know or not know, which means that there is no way to improve and enhance the students education – fill in the knowledge holes, as it were. Meanwhile, the schools understandably do whatever they possibly can to statistically show that “Look, our students are getting smarter!”, and we’ve seen more than a few getting caught flat out cheating and manipulating the tests to get the best score possible. If we were allowed to see the results, and use them as a refresher for each student to show where their over-all educational weaknesses are, this testing program could indeed be useful.  From a teacher’s perspective, this test and the NCLB requirements are a complete waist of time, and are only done to fill the need of some bureaucrats scattered throughout Washington DC and the states to do “something” “for the children” and lord over the entire education system, as if they are doing anything to really help!

Which brings me to the point I’ve been making for OVER two years now… If a bloated bureaucratic government is such a horrible thing and Republicans are all about getting rid of waist in Government, then why are none of the remaining”True Conservative” candidates not advocating for the complete repeal of this educational waist of time and money????  Yes, Ron Paul might actually take steps to do just that, but we see in the flagging support he gets from the majority of the GOP faithful how serious they really are about cutting Government. It’s not that they don’t like “Big Government”, they just don’t like it when it’s not being run by them. As I stated two years ago:


I’m sorry, but I find the new Conservative commitment to decreasing the size of government as bankrupt as the government they claim to dislike.

And after witnessing the absurdity of the current crop of candidates for the Republican side,  I find this just as valid as it was two years ago,…  maybe more so.

I’ll address some other problems with the education system in Pt 3 of this series sometime today I hope.