Tuesday, May 17, 2016

American public education system cannot be fixed

It simply can't be saved.  

There is just too much money sucked up by the public education system (K-12) with too many bureaucrats who have devoted their lives to keeping the cash flowing, and indeed to increase the cash flow taken at gunpoint from their tax payers within their districts. These bureaucrats have now feather bedded each school to the point that they are nothing more than bottomless money pits that suck the very life blood out of their communities, and drive property tax rates through the roof to support such opulence, extravagance and waste.  

For each child within a typical public school, there might be in any one school district approximately .5 administrators/support staff/teachers on the public payroll making sure that the taxes freely flow in to support this child.  Two kids, one public school employee.  It is simply unsustainable in the long run.

And the long run is now here.

When I went to public school (6th grade, 1966), my school had 25 kids per class, and the elementary school I attended (Ida Patterson Elementary, Eugene OR) had two classes per grade, K-6.  That equaled 175 kids in this building from September through June, a typical school year.

The staff of this public school in 1966 consisted of the following:

  • 1 teacher per classroom, or 14 total teachers.
  • 1 principal
  • 3 administrative personnel
  • 1 school nurse, who served 4 other local schools also
  • 1 janitor/handyman/maintenance guy
This ancient school had no buses, because we walked or rode our bikes to school. There were no lunch ladies, cooks, dishwashers, cafeterias, none of that. We ate lunch at our desks, and the independent milk man delivered a case of milk to each teacher, and she charged each kid 4 cents for a carton of milk to go along with their brown bag lunch which was packed by their loving parents.

No special education/high risk student teachers, no language teachers, no truant officers, no security personnel, no bus drivers, no bus maintenance facility, no mechanics, no mechanic supervisors, no mechanical facility administrators, none of this garbage.

And somehow, we were taught the elementary subjects of reading, writing and arithmetic (the Three Rs).

My daughter's elementary school in 2013 consisted of the following staff to educate grades (K-5) of approx 150 students:
  • 35 teachers, to include special needs/education teachers, language teachers, speech therapists, physical education teachers, science teachers, librarians, and then the regular grade school general subject teachers.
  • 1 principal
  • 1 vice principal
  • 1 attendance principal
  • 4 gym/physical ed teachers
  • 2 security personnel
  • 14 general office administrators
  • 17 cafeteria staff, to include a cafeteria manager and assistant manager
  • 7 bus drivers
  • 5 bus/equipment maintenance workers
  • 10 misc. employees, whose duties are nebulous at best
The math here is not hard.  That's a LOT of public school employees, and the community is satisfied that this is the least, bare bones level of staffing that we can live with to educate our children. We simply cannot function with less.

Bond issues are voted on each year to try and increase the funding to the local schools, since they are always cash strapped.  Any attempt to reign in this profligate spending on this bloated system is vilified, and cries of 'but it's for the children!' are blasted from bullhorns held by teacher's union goons.

These public school employees are so entrenched, and have so ingrained into our conscience that we need all of this crap so that our children receive the education they deserve, there is just no possibility that a single penny can be cut from the ever growing bureaucracy.

There is simply no hope of fixing this.  It just needs to be dumped in its entirety and started again from the beginning.  But parents will not put up with any significant changes, since it is the way it has been since, well, forever.

No, it hasn't always been like this.  


LL said...

The teachers unions need to be broken and we can start over.

When I went to elementary school, the PARENTS worked free of charge in the cafeteria to provide a hot lunch for the children. That was back when many women didn't need to provide a second income in order for the mail man, the milk man the police man, the butcher, the baker or the candlestick maker to put a roof over a family.

Not all of the parents did that, but there were always half a dozen mothers - sometimes a father, who did the cooking. It was the same in Junior High and the same in High School. We didn't find it odd that parents were at school, cooking. There was a teacher's union back then but it didn't include the cooks so scab labor was not replaced by union drones.

I knew many of my teachers outside of school. We all did. If we did poorly, they called our parents. Nobody wanted that to happen.

I did not grow up in an inner-city hell.

It can be fixed but the first thing that needs to go is the teacher's labor union.

Fredd said...

LL: and nobody in the public school system, and I mean NOBODY is deeper entrenched in the status quo than the teachers unions. Failure of the system is their bread and butter. Failure, they say? Then throw more money and union members into the pot.

Thugs, all of 'em.

Kid said...

Fredd, I couldn't read the whole thing. It looks ike you've got the t's crossed and the i's dotted however. Your conclusion is spot on (start over) and do it local with local evaluation of performance and your secondary conclusion is also correct, parents don't care enough to do anything about it. Geeez, threaten them with having to drive their kids to school and you'd think they had a gun to their head. No No! We'll pay more taxes, whatever you want ! basterd lazy cowards.

Let me just add that when the 'financial crisis' came down, a local podunk school district let 90 administrators go and 100 teachers and called it good. What the hell do administrators do ut bring the donuts and ignore parent emails for 6 figures a year.
And a local podunk fire station let 90 people go and kept 13 and called it good. May of the 90 were 'part time' but still.

And imagine this country wide. There is no economic performance pressure from anyone. Probably the opposite. The local, state and federal public unions are raping us with telephone poles. People have no idea. It's a feeding frenzy an ocean full of sharks would be jealous of.

LSP said...

Fredd, and LL, I'd say you've pretty much nailed it. I have firsthand parental experience in the public school system just outside of DC (Bladensburg, MD) and Philadelphia (Germantown). Good. God. It's one of the reasons I moved to Calgary, where things were a little more sane -- just. i.e. no metal detectors, armed guards, gangs, "people of color" run amok, kids knifed in the playground, classrooms a zoo, etc.

I tell you, I could rant and rant on this theme. But I won't, I'll just agree and say yes, break the teachers unions and make a start of ending this disgusting, failed, broken, leftist experiment in social engineering and corruption.

To harp on a theme, I think it'll take a "reset." Maybe Trump will make headway. Someone has to.

Fredd said...

I hate to say this, but I think that the entrenched status quo forces will not cede anything through legislation or public debate.

Much like Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were not ever going to relent in their evil ways.

There is only one way to fix the lost education system, and it will involve force, sadly. The entrenched thieves will not go quietly into that good night; they must be forced to leave. I will leave it at that.

LSP said...

Well said.

Brighid said...

Hoowee, You hit the nail on the head. Having worked many years in the Superintendent's office at both the district and county level, as well as a few years as a site secretary. I can confirm that the unions, both teachers and classified have raped the system for years. The whole thing needs to be trashed.
I sent my kids to private school as much as possible, where parents could contribute towards tuition by working in the classrooms, kitchen, cleaning, maintenance, etc. There were no buses. No unions! It works well, parents are involved, and kids are actually taught.

Fredd said...

Brighid: yes, private schools are the way to go. BUT: when you sent your kids to private school, did your property tax line item for support of the public school district get zeroed out, because your kids were not in public school? No, it did not. You paid to support the public school system whether your kids used it or not.

Once we eliminate that coerced support, we will be well on our way to better public schools.

Euripides said...

Finally got some time in between semesters to read a bit of blogs. The problem with education is indeed systemic as the bureaucracy grows far above the need. Years ago, I had outlined the (admittedly impossible) plan to get schools back on track:

1 - Increase Teachers' Salaries According to Merit
2 - Get Rid of the Elementary Education Degree
3 - Repeal the No Child Left Behind Act and Common Core
4 - Give Education Back to the States
5 - Return to School-Independent and Departmental Control
6 - Give Up Silly Liberal Teaching Models
7 - Treat All Political Lobbies as We Now Treat Corporations
8 - Expect More from Students

Fredd said...

Rip: Yes, your plan is impossible with teachers unions opposing each and every one of your suggestions.

Once the teachers unions are eliminated, then your plan would be possible. But the possibility of getting rid of these parasites is virtually zero. The only way to get rid of them now is by force. No other way.

Sandee said...

Unions started out being a good thing. For the most part they aren't anymore. They are more into money grabs and politics. Some great points here.

Have a fabulous day. ☺