Battle of the states over education


We’re in a donnybrook across America with how we educate our kids…and I want to step into the thicket!

I recently had the phenomenal privilege to visit with listeners in Sacramento courtesy of my Talk 650 KSTE affiliate. While I was in the California capital, I was shocked, amazed and outraged that the head of the teacher’s union in the state said that California’s budget problems affecting education could be solved by raising taxes.

That’s a bold proclamation in this era. I’d be happy to have the man on air and we could talk about his “solution” to the problems in so many school districts across America where the academic performance of kids is pitiful no matter how much money you throw at the schools.

I believe a much better alternative to raising taxes is to look at the solution being offered in Indiana. Indiana is looking to come up with the nation’s most robust voucher program for education. Now, I know that some people are diametrically opposed to vouchers. So how about home schooling or charter schools? Any method that will open competition to the public schools is good in my book.

If your kid goes to public school and you’re happy, great. I, on the other hand, choose to write a big check to a private school for my middle child. That’s something that I can afford and so there’s no question in my family. But what if you can’t afford to send your kid to private school? Why should my kid have that opportunity while so many other parents can’t avail themselves of it for their children?

We spend a huge amount of money per kid across the country for education. And I’m not saying there aren’t good teachers; there are plenty of great teachers out there! But the environment may not be conducive to learning for each child. Kids don’t come out of an injector mold and schools shouldn’t either.

When parents look around at private schools, they look for the right fit for their child. It’s the same thing with colleges and universities, which are so different from one another. Why is it that a kid from a family that can’t afford to go to private school should be forced into a Soviet-style injector mold school? It’s wrong. America should be about opportunity. We should give kids, regardless of their parents’ income, an opportunity, and we’re not right now with the way we do education.

Even if you don’t have kids, you’re spending a fortune of tax dollars at the federal, state and local levels to not educate kids. So I salute Indiana’s legislators for looking at the widest possible choice. If we want to stay competitive in the world, we have to raise well-educated kids — not kids we spend a lot of money on pretending they’re educated.

It reminds me of the old phrase you’d hear at the end of Communism in the 1990s. “We pretend to pay you and you pretend to work.” That’s my concern about our schools today. We pay the money and they pretend to educate our kids. We’ve got to fix that.

Editor’s note: This segment originally aired in April 2011.


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