Grassroots Commentary

The Effect of the Welfare State on Public Education

Duane V. Grassell · Aug. 23, 2013

In my last article, I wrote about the control of local public education through the use of unconstitutional federal education laws in special education. In the comments section following my post, many commented of left-wing activists who indoctrinate rather than teach our children. While it is true that these people do exist, please allow me to point out that there are also teachers who hold conservative and/or Christian values that are fighting the fight of giving American students a quality education and by example, teaching a strong work ethic, independent thinking, nondependent living and Christian values. I know of many Christians who make teaching in the public schools of the united States their personal mission field. Because of the state of the public schools and the unconstitutional influence of the public schools by the federal government, I chose to enroll my child in a Christian school where a quality education was given, where the Bible was also taught, and where solid science was presented on why evolution is a warped theory. Like others before me, I ask that any true believing Christian or true original intent believer of the Constitution to not enroll their children in a public school system anywhere in this nation. Instead, if your budget can afford it, consider a good private school that is in sync with your beliefs or consider home schooling, especially with the current administration in power. I also ask true believing Christians to consider careers in public education in the teaching and administrative capacity. Also, I ask that all true believing Christians seek positions on your local and state school boards. Believe me when I say that you can make a difference in turning our nation around.

After making my plea, I will now get to the main point of this article. Another way the federal government has changed public education has been the expansion of the welfare state since the Great Society legislation of the 1960s. While the influence is an indirect one, it is an influence that has changed public education in major ways. While many researchers before me have investigated the effects on a life receiving free money, food stamps, free housing, free medical care, etc. without a work requirement on individuals, the same opinion has been given through observations. Some opinions include the psychological elimination of the work ethic, the break-up of a cohesive family unit, the disregard of property as well as the disregard of life and self-destructive behavior such as drugs or other criminal activity. Another aspect of the welfare state that I have not seen in the literature is the negative effect on the education of a child living in the welfare environment.

As I mentioned in a previous article, I have taught high school math for 33 years. I have been in a few high schools where the student body consisted of 25% from a welfare home to 100% coming from a welfare home. I also researched and wrote a dissertation in the 1990s. While the intended subject of my dissertation was not about students growing up and being educated in the welfare state, I came across some enlightening data related to these children.

By the time many of these children get to high school, a pattern of self-destructive behavior has already been established in the attainment of their education. Problems include lack of attentiveness in class including disruptive behavior that interferes with the learning of other students in the class, a lack of self-study or test preparation outside of class, disregard or misuse of the textbook, poor attendance including the cutting of classes or the whole school day and the bringing of criminal activities from the neighborhood into the school setting. The welfare culture also demands passing grades despite a lack of effort in the pursuit of learning the material or the demonstration of a lack of knowledge on a given test. Now the real tragedy of this problem is these students show real ability in the early stages of their education. Every public school student is given a national test at different grade levels. The results are scored and the student is rated on a percentile. A percentile rates a student compared to all other tested students nationwide. For example, a rating of a 75th percentile means that the student scored better than 75% of the students who took that test. During my dissertation research, I was granted access to the ratings of students in several school districts over time with the provision I would respect school district policy to protect the identity of all students. While many students do not deviate too far in percentile from early grades to later grades, many students living in a welfare community show a rapid decline during their school years. I have seen records of students scoring above the 80th percentile in the early grades and dropping to below the 10th percentile by the 8th grade. The common denominator in almost all of these cases is the culture of the welfare state. However, these students still show a high level of intelligence though not toward an academic pursuit. I have seen students who struggle academically still be able to recite verbatim favorite song lyrics, a comics’ entire stand-up routine, entire episodes of a show from a premium cable show or podcast, which show you the priorities of those who are just given money, and they are able to develop a strategy to defeat a popular computer game. Each of these takes a high level of intelligence to execute, but a teacher who tries to teach the same student how to read a problem and be able to set up an algebraic equation that describes the problem, then solve the equation to find a solution that makes sense to the problem, that teacher will find the students’ head down on their desk, the textbook hidden in the back of the classroom, no homework turned in and the problem left blank on the test. The welfare culture drives the child from meaningful learning to learning of skills that will have little value in the job market.

There is some good news that comes out of the welfare community. There are students who reject the welfare culture and work hard to leave it. This may be due to a strong parent or other adult influence that was able to get through to the child. There are also those who see the welfare community and independently become determined to leave that lifestyle. These students are engaged in a battle for their mind and soul as they face fierce resistance in their quest to better their life. But no matter what obstacles these students face, they still obtain the best education they have and eventually become producers in the work world, or even become some of the best soldiers in the military. They achieve the difficult goal of leaving their neighborhood and moving on to a world that has the benefits they earned and is safer for their family. These students are the ones that are the greatest reward to teachers who truly care about their career. There are other families that see the value of education and wish to separate their children from the welfare culture and do so by trying to get their children into a private school through a voucher program. This explains why the current administration has done everything in its power to eliminate voucher programs in spending bills. I have meet several families who pursued this avenue as I advocated in my opening paragraph and whose children do go on to a successful life.

The welfare culture has created the unintended consequences, or perhaps intended, of damaging the intellectual development of children in these programs. Because of this, I believe it is in the best interest of this nation to completely dismantle all welfare programs and put work requirements on every able bodied adult. These programs have been a drain on our nation’s financial resources and created millions of tragedies among the children who grew up in this lifestyle. There is no moral defense for the existence of these programs.

Finally, in case anyone wishes to comment on this article and call me a racist based on what has been written in the above paragraphs, allow me to point out one final observation. The behaviors I described above have been observed in welfare recipients of all races. Again, no matter what race or what part of the world the welfare recipient originated from, the same behaviors have been observed after a prolonged period of time on the welfare dole.

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