America Skips School
a book by Benjamin R. Barber
(our site's book review)
Barber feels that America needs to clean up its educational act pronto, since more than 90 million American adults lack simple literacy, 130,000 kids bring guns to school each day (that was 1993), there are tremendous numbers of dropouts and social promotions, and many of the dropouts end up in jail. He feels the hypocrisy of the critics who keep yelling “educational crisis” is depressing and overt. He warns that democracy and freedom are taken for granted by our young now, who do not feel that such things have to be nurtured, paid for, guarded and taken responsibility for in order for them to be maintained.
The price of liberty will forever be vigilance. But our young feel we’re all born with these things and they’re the natural state of man. He points out that the natural state of man is anything but democracy—consider Lord of the Flies, mob mentality, world history until 1776, and the tyranny of the majority. “Citizenship doesn’t just happen.” He cites America’s lower schools as some of the world’s worst, and we have 180 days a year of public education compared to 240 days in Japan and Europe.
America’s lower schools are some of the world’s worst
He makes good sense until he starts looking at cures—even though it is said that once you specifically define the problem, you're half way to solving it, apparently this axiom did not apply in this case. He actually thinks that raising the teacher salaries will help kids learn more.
The NEA has a choke-hold on American education
(When are these NEA-brainwashed people going to understand how bureaucracies function? As we've paid them more, the results have worsened. He is a Professor of Political Science. What about the science of statistical analysis? We get why teachers always say the cure-all is money. Their fellow teachers would tar-and-feather them if they didn't throw that well-worn liberal cliché out there—as would the NEA. It's as if they think that if they repeat it enough, it will magically come true. It won't, and there's no extra money available for plumping up teachers' wallets anyway.)
Barber's big government, liberal solution of throwing money at the education problem is silly at best
Even though extending the school year and reducing class sizes like he says would help, his big government, liberal solution of throwing money at the problem was more than a little disappointing. If he is a professor of political science, then he should have a scientist mind; but if that is so then how does he view the fact that the more teachers’ salaries were raised over the past few decades, the worse the problem got? And we all know what the excuse for bad results from teachers was: Oh, we need even MORE money! Liberals can be considered literally insane in this area. Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. But were they really expecting it? Or were they simply happy about the raise?
He implies that teachers ought to get paid like lawyers and doctors: at least $70,000 to $80,000 to start (that was 1993). You can tell he's not serious, since pie-in-the-sky wet dreams like these are usually accompanied by the word "ought"—a dead giveaway. He knows there's no way the public will ever support such an idea nor is there money available even if they did. So who is the "ought" word aimed at? The NEA? His university buddies? God? The man is whistling in the dark.
Whistling in the dark
He puts down Robert Reich’s advocacy of more training, even though it is Reich who has uncovered the true reason that jobs get paid what they do: they’re paid according to their value in the global marketplace. Let’s get down to brass tacks: Teachers and schools are failing to even protect our kids, much less teach them decently. The value of the results they’re getting (not teaching them to be capable, problem solving, thoughtful, cooperative citizens with good values but only giving them a low-quality education accompanied not by good character and good values but simple street savvy at best) is exactly what these teachers are now getting paid. As he knows. So this pretend solution to the educational crisis is simply disingenuous. But advancing such a super-liberal solution is understood once we notice he got his Doctorate from Harvard University. Any questions?
Teachers and schools are failing to even protect our kids, much less teach them decently—notice the last bar is for four years, not ten, so it means incidences of these slayings are increasing dramatically!
Teachers have a litany of reasons why the educational crisis is not their fault—many of them valid. Character and values should be taught in the home, kids come to school not only unready to learn but also in need of more basic resources than education—such things as fundamental medical care, positive self-regard, decent nutrition, and simple human nurturing. And until these more basic needs are met, education won’t happen. Why Barber feigns that he thinks that more money for teachers is going to change this basic educational barrier in our country, when it’s clearly irrelevant, would be beyond us, if we hadn't realized what we did in the last few paragraphs. He's fooling no one—not even himself. See Teachers Say Unnurtured Kids Aren't Ready for School—We Say Unnurtured People Aren't Ready for Survival.
Kid too insecure for school due to sparse nurturing at home
Teachers' view of education
Okay, let’s suppose that American teachers got the great results we’re all wanting, the economy boomed full of high-paid jobs being filled by very competent people taught by these American teachers and these former students do so well that the country is awash in progress, growth and prosperity. And let’s suppose that teachers ask for those big bucks then. Guess what? They’d get them! America is saying that we know the past record of salary increases accompanied by worse results—it’s made us cynical. But America is also saying put up or shut up, or, in short: We’ll never give you the bucks you want until you give us the results we want. The last time we looked, this is how all businesses work. You ask the boss for a raise. He gives you a summary of the results he wants from you for you to be WORTH that coveted raise. You buckle down and get these results. You get the raise. So why do teachers think they're so special they should be given carte blanche regardless of results? Simple. Because their teacher union tells them so!
People cannot afford big tax increases for teachers to keep getting crummy results
People cannot afford big tax increases for teachers to keep getting crummy results. But people also cannot afford not to give big raises to teachers if they can pull off the needed hat trick of a well-educated citizenry.
When the author doesn’t see teachers’ raises coming fast enough, he accuses us of not caring. He should rethink this. We care about good education, but not about rewarding bad results. He needs to look at the record of the liberal welfare state over the past several decades and notice that, without exception, the more money you put into the hands of the social engineers in agencies and bureaucracies, the less results you get, until finally you start getting negative results.
Examples are welfare encouraging dependency and irresponsibility, bloated defense budgets going down B-2 bomber and SDI and Haliburton rat-holes, and higher entitlement payments encouraging drug companies and insurance companies to gouge the public. The general public wants to take its money out of the hands of big government, lower taxes, and take responsibility for themselves because the government has failed to do a good job of regulating its tax intake according to its results. The government swears Social Security is being handled well, and pretends not to know that few people believe that Social Security will be there for them when they are old—we simply do not trust them.
Examples of negative results and wasted money due to bureaucratic incompetence are bloated defense budgets going down B-2 bomber and SDI and Haliburton rat-holes (SDI [Star Wars] tried to assure American security, and later the global war on terror took its place: both are about delusion and both failed)
The citizens are totally correct in not incurring a staggering tax burden on the hollow promises of teachers and administrators and professors like Barber. The NEA would be wise to quit thinking entitlement and raise and pension and salary and tenure and start thinking about ways to get the results our country desperately needs. We need an educational job done on our young, not a snow job done on our wallets.
Barber needs to talk to some of the millions of families he’s asking to shoulder the tax increases—families that can barely make ends meet now. If they have to pay more taxes, some of them will have to work another job or longer hours, thereby having even less time to care for their kids, thereby sending their kids to school even less ready for education. This is a nonstarter. Barber has gotten the cart before the horse.
Barber has gotten the cart before the horse
Okay, first the bad news: There’s no way that teachers can hope to get our young highly educated in twelve years, given the current social realities. It’s hopeless (in public schools, but expensive private schools for the rich are a different matter). And it's impossible. So neither high teacher salaries nor good lower education are in our young’s future—given the current social realities. It FEELS like a stalemate for a very simple reason. IT IS A STALEMATE!
Now the good news: Current parenting and discipline practices, along with steep-gradient nurturance and win-lose contexts and letting kids do most of their "learning" in front of TV screens which double as babysitters—these things do not create kids ready for school, kids ready for cooperation, kids ready to think and problem-solve, or kids ready for relationships, communication or life in today’s world, BUT THESE THINGS ARE NOT CAST IN STONE—THEY ARE QUITE CHANGEABLE!
Stop letting kids do most of their 'learning' in front of TV screens—which unfortunately are also used as babysitters
As a matter of fact, when the MC movement is fully under way, all this will reverse: Good parenting, communication, and relationship practices will produce responsible, productive young people, eager to learn, happy, good at thinking, cooperating, and engaging in win-win problem-solving and effective relationships. Adult relationships will also transform. True friendships will evolve, multiply and thrive, and replace the pale, superficial relationships that pass for friendships these days such as Facebook cyber-relationships. Education will be a pleasure for student and teacher alike, not drudgery, and schools will do it the way they should have long ago: see Beyond Discipline and Montessori: A Modern Approach. Employees will be responsible and eager to succeed, not merely eager for lots of bucks regardless of the results they get, like today.
Parenting will finally have the knowledge and human resources it’s needed for decades, and will be a pleasure, not a disappointing and frustrating chore with precious few rewards, like for so many people today. Teachers will be able to teach, not discipline, and they’ll get excellent results because the students won’t settle for less—even if they have to teach themselves. They’ll be that responsible and at-cause.
To repeat: The good news is that the MC movement will take care of both the educational crisis and the teachers’ pocketbooks simultaneously, as a secondary effect of people living an effective, fully functional lifestyle that is Third Wave compatible, resource-full in childcare and eldercare and social relationships, focused on the power of knowledge and wisdom, and relating from a win-win perspective in all matters. And all this with no tax increase, no politics, no policies, no agencies, no bureaucracies, no people “up there” to be at effect of, no pressure, no authoritarianism or permissiveness, no polarization, no divisiveness, and most especially no social engineering! See Why Register for an MC?.
Registering for MC search and match
The MC movement will take care of the educational crisis without the need for ANY social engineering superheroes