Go On, Say it Jim
by James Glaser
June 15, 2009

Sometimes people get in to trouble when they speak their mind, and I have plenty of times in my life, but it is usually good to get those thoughts out there. Timid people drive me nuts. They are the ones who say, "I was going to say something, but I thought it wasn't my place" or "I didn't want to hurt their feelings."

Well it might not be my place, and this far along I don't care if I hurt somebody's feelings. I wish all Americans would speak out more. I believe that is why we have freedom of speech and assembly. Right about now the only people heard are the talking heads in the media and politicians. I'm sick of both groups, and their ideas seem pretty stale to me.

To start out, I believe the government wants our children and grandchildren to have a poor education. I think they want ignorant people who will be followers, not leaders. Politicians in Washington tell us how and what our schools will teach. Of course those same politicians put their kids in private schools.

There was a time in this country when every school district decided what their local kids would learn. Back then, with local involvement, school board meetings meant more than balancing the budget. The school board, along with interested parents and grandparents, would pick out the curriculum. They actually decided which new library books to get and what new text books would be used in the classroom.

Local school districts decided if the kids were doing well, and Washington had no input. Today, Washington tells every public school what it can and cannot do, and kids are walking away from that kind of education.

Only 50% of African American kids graduate from high school, and we wonder why drug gangs, and the prison population is so filled with young black men. In many states white kids are not doing that much better, and I believe that is just fine with Washington. Washington wants an uneducated class of Americans. Truth be told, I believe with the quality of today's schools, those kids graduating today are not that much further along than some of those who drop out.

An uneducated work force means a cheap labor pool, and a supply of Soldiers and Marines who will do what they are told. The Army and Marine Corp will tell you that 90 to 95 percent of the kids joining up today are high school graduates. But what is the education level of a high school graduate today?

Corporations will move to third world countries to produce goods, but those rich stock holders like living here in the United States. The only thing lacking here is cheap gardeners, household help, and childcare givers. Yes, we can and do import them from south of the border, but it would be nicer for the rich if that cheap help were born and raised right here. They just can't let them have a good education, because soon they would realize that they were being taken advantage of.

Now, I am not the only one who feels this way about our education system. Read the following "Minority Report" by Walter Williams. Williams is an economics professor at George Mason University.




"Dumbest Generation Getting Dumber"

The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an international comparison of 15-year-olds conducted by The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that measures applied learning and problem-solving ability. In 2006, U.S. students ranked 25th of 30 advanced nations in math and 24th in science. McKinsey & Company, in releasing its report "The Economic Impact of the Achievement Gap in America's Schools" (April 2009) said, "Several other facts paint a worrisome picture. First, the longer American children are in school, the worse they perform compared to their international peers. In recent cross-country comparisons of fourth grade reading, math, and science, US students scored in the top quarter or top half of advanced nations. By age 15 these rankings drop to the bottom half. In other words, American students are farthest behind just as they are about to enter higher education or the workforce." That's a sobering thought. The longer kids are in school and the more money we spend on them, the further behind they get.

While the academic performance of white students is grossly inferior, that of black and Latino students is a national disgrace. The McKinsey report says, "On average, black and Latino students are roughly two to three years of learning behind white students of the same age. This racial gap exists regardless of how it is measured, including both achievement (e.g., test score) and attainment (e.g., graduation rate) measures. Taking the average National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores for math and reading across the fourth and eighth grades, for example, 48 percent of blacks and 43 percent of Latinos are 'below basic,' while only 17 percent of whites are, and this gap exists in every state. A more pronounced racial achievement gap exists in most large urban school districts." Below basic is the category the NAEP uses for students unable to display even partial mastery of knowledge and skills fundamental for proficient work at their grade level.

The teaching establishment and politicians have hoodwinked taxpayers into believing that more money is needed to improve education. The Washington, D.C., school budget is about the nation's costliest, spending about $15,000 per pupil. Its student/teacher ratio, at 15.2 to 1, is lower than the nation's average. Yet student achievement is just about the lowest in the nation. What's so callous about the Washington situation is about 1,700 children in kindergarten through 12th grade receive the $7,500 annual scholarships in order to escape rotten D.C. public schools, and four times as many apply for the scholarships, yet Congress, beholden to the education establishment, will end funding the school voucher program.

Any long-term solution to our education problems requires the decentralization that can come from competition. Centralization has been massive. In 1930, there were 119,000 school districts across the U.S; today, there are less than 15,000. Control has moved from local communities to the school district, to the state, and to the federal government. Public education has become a highly centralized government-backed monopoly and we shouldn't be surprised by the results. It's a no-brainer that the areas of our lives with the greatest innovation, tailoring of services to individual wants and falling prices are the areas where there is ruthless competition such as computers, food, telephone and clothing industries, and delivery companies such as UPS, Federal Express and electronic bill payments that have begun to undermine the postal monopoly in first-class mail.

At a Washington press conference launching the McKinsey report, Al Sharpton called school reform the civil rights challenge of our time. He said that the enemy of opportunity for blacks in the U.S. was once Jim Crow; today, in a slap at the educational establishment, he said it was "Professor James Crow." Sharpton is only partly correct. School reform is not solely a racial issue; it's a vital issue for the entire nation.

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.

If you have been reading my columns for any amount of time, you know that I feel we (Washington) go to war so that some Americans can get rich selling us the bombs, bullets, and other equipment needed for killing.

You also know that I feel that there is no difference between the Republicans and the Democrats and that politicians live as a separate class in the United States. They have their own pay scale, their own retirement plan (a really nice one) and their own health care system (a lot better than ours). Also, if you check it out, you will find they also have their own legal system, and that Washington's politicians and much of their senior staff are immune from the laws we have to follow.

Sometimes I think it might go like this when an American President asks the European Union to help out in one of our wars. German Diplomat—"We would like to help you out, but remember after World War II we decided to spend our money taking care of our people, so we spent all of our money on universal health care for our citizens. We see the spot you are in with al Qaeda over in Afghanistan, and like I said, we would like to help, but taking care of our own, has us tapped out."

Most of the countries who fought in the "Big One" decided to forego war and spend their money domestically. We started off right after the war rebuilding Europe and Japan, and we have been sending money overseas ever since. Heck, we have more troops and more bases over seas than most countries have troops and bases in their own countries. We are still occupying Europe, Japan, and Korea more than half a century after all those troops should have come home.

When you can't understand something, look for who is making the money. Somebody gets the contract to supply our hundreds of foreign bases and the hundreds of thousands of American troops we keep there.

Yes, European countries can have universal health care for their citizens, because they have small military budgets. In comparison to our military budget, they spend almost nothing. They know we are not about to attack them, they trade with us. So what can we do to keep out military spending high?

We can attack pitiful third world countries. Sometimes that comes back to bite us like when we fought Vietnam, but we learned from that. Now the country we attack has to be more than pitiful. It can't have a army, navy, or air force. Think Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Granada, Panama, and Somalia. Ah, maybe Somalia is a bad example. Those people were a bit like the Vietnamese. They fought back hard, and we had to get out of there.

So, here is how it works. We design and build military weapons. We sell those weapons to whomever wants to buy them. However, we don't make enough money that way, so we also constantly go to war where we use up military equipment as fast as we can, so we have to make more. After each war we try to leave a number of our troops in that country, troops we have to support.

The people who own the Military Industrial Complex of defense contractors from whom we buy all the bullets, bombs and equipment get very rich. Because of that, we can not afford universal health care for our citizens.

However, because we do not provide that health care, we have another whole segment of America getting rich on the suffering of our citizens. That would be the people who own and are senior management for the drug industry, the hospital industry, medical equipment people, and the HMOs.... Oh yeah, the doctors too.

So we have two large groups of Americans getting rich. Those who make it possible for use to kill around the globe on a massive scale, and those who make money off of sick and dying American citizens.

Remember, we are a Christian nation, and we follow the teachings of Jesus Christ... or not.

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