Readers know that TPOL and its participants have never been supportive of so-called public schools, and have always advocated the massive separation of the state and schools. We are far from alone in that, but we seem to be part of a growing movement.
Epoch Times recently carried a news and commentary piece on how public (government-run, tax-funded) schools in large cities are hemorrhaging students – and where the kids are going. (If you want to read that without signing up for ET, visit FEE.ORG.)
This is part of a general decline, accelerated by the disastrous Pandemic Panic lockdowns of 2020-2021 in all states but at drastic levels in many “major” states. This decline in numbers comes on top of (and at least partially as a result of) the decline in performance, in quality, and in service.
Just two things have NOT declined: the major one is funding. Even as student numbers drop, the funding of so-called public schools in this nation continues to be funded at ever-higher levels by the politicians – and the people the politicians control. More and more money is shoveled into the furnace to be consumed, along with the students.
The second thing that has not declined? School employment and the power of these people who are more and more just parasites on the body politic. Even though there are fewer and fewer students, the staff numbers seem to creep (or even gallop) steadily up. (And incidentally, bucking an otherwise national trend, union membership goes up for the “education professions.”)
Why? Politics, of course. Although more and more parents are abandoning the government schools to teach their children in private (or religious) schools, home schools, and all the variants on these themes with the ready availability of online and local tutors and free-lance teachers, a vast majority STILL support public schools. As do grandparents who think of the schools the way they were 50 years ago. AND businesses run by those people. And because, of course, politicians both lie and benefit from all that “free” government money.
Now keep in mind – there are TWO ways that the public massively supports GRTF schools. Yes, political support – through their “elected representatives” (increasingly oligarchs and demagogues) of course. But secondly: that stolen money – again tax money thrown at the “education system” by those same “elected representatives.”
Remember that the typical student gets very little if ANY money or materials: perhaps free meals or meals at reduced costs, and a playground, gym, sports fields (more playgrounds) and equipment. And of course, the loan of a desk to which they are all but chained for six hours a day.
And relatively speaking, the actual classroom teachers also get a pretty small slice of the pie. That is intentional: one of the biggest propaganda points of the GRTF school promoters is the low pay of teachers.
So where does the money go? Contractors and suppliers: builders and maintainers, textbook publishers, producers and sellers of equipment and supplies, food suppliers, and many more.
And especially all the administration and support staff.
Once upon a time, most American children were taught in one-room schools: 15-30 students, ages 6 to 12 or 14, taught by A single teacher. The students and teacher brought their lunches: parents gave supplies and materials – including things like firewood or coal. There might be a county superintendent of schools who went from school to school, observing and consulting and teaching the teachers, recommending (and sometimes with budget) to buy textbooks and materials. Maintenance and even construction was a community affair. The school, or the county, had an elected board of education, 3-5 men and women, who oversaw everything and got needed funds – on a project-by-project, person-by-person basis from the County Board of Supervisors or even the voters of their county or district.
Today? The classroom teacher is “supported” by an incredible tail of people: mostly bosses. I don’t think we need to describe a typical modern school district with dozens of schools, tens of dozens of staff and administrators in each school, and a massive “district administration” under a superintendent and a half-dozen deputies or assistants, and dozens of staff: specialists (and bosses) in transportation and facilities, food service and custodial services, security and nursing and all the rest. And remember that in some cases those school districts still fall under the control of a County Superintendent of Schools and yet ANOTHER massive bureaucracy. Which in turn is ruled by a still more massive mob of bureaucrats (with checkbooks) at the State Department of Education. All coordinated and bossed by one of the most amazing boondoggles in the history of human government: the US Department of Education.
As far as an observer of education trends for a half-century is concerned, that was the death stroke of so-called public education in the Fifty States. Since then, like a snake with its head cut off, the government-run education system continues to appear to live, but is just taking a long time to die. And dragging down the futures of millions of children with it.
Unfortunately, it isn’t dying fast enough.