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Arnold Ahlert / Nov. 25, 2019

Public Schools Must Be De-unionized

It's time to sink the union monopolies in school districts across the nation.

As the saying goes, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. No one embraces that aphorism more wholeheartedly than the nation’s education unions and their Democrat Party enablers.

As the latest test results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reveal, the unionized school model is an ongoing failure. “The average performance of the nation’s fourth and eighth graders mostly declined in math and reading from 2017 to 2019, following a decade of stagnation in educational progress, according to the results of a test released on Oct. 30, 2019,” columnist Jill Barshay reveals. “The one exception was fourth-grade math, with the average score rising by one point between 2017 and 2019.”

These results are not anomalous. Scores also declined between 2013 and 2015. But this particular drop was described as “substantial,” because reading scores for fourth-graders and eighth-graders declined in 14 states and 31 states, respectively.

Peggy G. Carr, associate commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) sounded the alarm. “Over the past decade, there has been no progress in either mathematics or reading performance, and the lowest performing students are doing worse,” she said in a prepared statement. “In fact, over the long term in reading, the lowest performing students — those readers who struggle the most — have made no progress from the first NAEP administration almost 30 years ago.”

How is it that three decades of stagnation are even remotely acceptable? OpenSecrets.org, a website that tracks political contributions, reveals half of the equation.

“Democrats haven’t received under 70 percent of education industry donations in a cycle since 2002,” the site explains. “In 2018, individuals from the education industry gave more than $64.5 million to Democrats and just $7.8 million to Republicans. The industry’s peak giving year thus far, 2016, saw more than $75 million go to Democrats and $12 million to Republicans.”

The two largest teachers unions, National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), lean even further left. “Even more than most labor unions, they have little use for Republicans, giving Democrats at least 94 percent of the funds they contributed to candidates and parties since as far back as 1990, where our data begins,” Open Secrets adds.

The other half of the equation? Quite simply, unionism itself. By definition, a union exists to promote and protect the interests of its members. Thus, under the best of circumstances, the concerns of students and parents are secondary.

This dynamic is nothing new. “Bosses, have I got an idea for you: Don’t pay your best employees more, don’t ease out your least productive workers, and for crying out loud, never fire anyone, not even for the most blatant misconduct on the job,” wrote columnist John Stossel — 13 years ago.

Stossel further explained that since unions are government monopolies, “they don’t care” and yet “never go out of business.” He asserts, “They just keep doing what they’re doing, year after year, churning out class after class of students handicapped by a poor education.”

Being monopolies, unions oppose school choice and charter schools, especially when those charter schools outperform union models — and even when the public favors them by a two-to-one margin — which becomes a three-to-one margin among black Americans.

It’s no secret why black Americans are far more supportive of charter schools than any other demographic. “The achievement gap between white students and black students has barely narrowed over the last 50 years, despite nearly a half century of supposed progress in race relations and an increased emphasis on closing such academic discrepancies between groups of students,” columnist Lauren Camera explained in 2016.

Isn’t 30 years of overall stagnation and 50 years of a black-white achievement gap enough evidence to suggest the status quo is broken beyond repair?

Unfortunately the unionized-schools monopoly is so powerful that unless one has the wherewithal to put one’s child in a private/parochial school (like school-choice opponent Elizabeth Warren did and then lied about), that child’s future — or complete lack thereof — can literally be determined by one’s zip code.

It’s truly remarkable how sanguine most Americans are regarding that kind of coercive power. If one were shopping for a car, and government confined that shopping to a particular neighborhood, most Americans would be appalled by such an assault on their Liberty. Yet every year, millions of children, mostly in cities controlled by Democrat Party machines, are forcibly assigned to transparently failing schools.

Even more abusive? The fraud of increasingly higher “graduation” rates. The national average public-school graduation rate for 2019-2020 is approximately 84%, yet 40 to 60% of first-year college students require remedial courses in math, English, or both according to a 2016 report by the left-leaning Center for American Progress.

Those two stats are irreconcilable. Yet they are never seriously challenged, any more than the contemptible cornucopia of bogus educational theories that engender the discrepancy. Such theories — from “whole reading” instruction, “reform” math and “cooperative” learning, to an obsession with self-esteem, forced-fed multiculturalism and hostility to testing — have produced legions of weak-thinking younger Americans.

Younger Americans nonetheless taught to view their own nation’s customs culture, traditions, and economic system with contempt. “Our children are being intentionally brainwashed,” asserts columnist Ziva Dahl. “Postmodern academics, disdainful of America and the West, know that the best way to bring down our political and economic system is to refashion our history for future generations.” What to do? First, Americans must recognize that the union monopoly and the demands it imposes on students, parents, and a lot of capable and well-meaning teachers is a complete bust — at best.

At worst? Given the animus toward America union-monopolized schools disseminate to children on a daily basis, they are arguably a threat to national security.

Second, nationally televised Senate hearings should be convened, aimed at exposing the damage these monopolies have done. While most Americans are somewhat aware of the problems, seeing those who represent the status quo of ongoing educational failure defending their agenda — one after another, after another — might precipitate the collective outrage necessary to engender the paradigm shift in public education this nation desperately needs.

One critical to our ability to survive as a constitutional republic.

Every serious problem afflicting this nation can directly or indirectly traced back to the corruption of our education system. Right now, a least two generations of Americans believe American exceptionalism should be supplanted by a nihilistic stew of identity politics, economic collectivism, and intellectual bankruptcy epitomized by the words “my truth.”

Genuine truth? It’s time to start all over from scratch. After half a century of consistent decline, buying into yet another round of union promises to “reform” the system must be seen as the Titanic deck-chair rearrangement it truly is. It’s time to sink the union monopolies in school districts across the nation.

We’ve countenanced their insanity long enough.

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