[COMMENT: Well, ,this tells the story that we will not hear in the media. Please pass this out like popcorn. Moore (or whoever wrote the article) does not take the final solution step -- to get government totally out of education, top to bottom. But he does describe the problem vividly.
Get your children out of public education. It is neither public nor
education. E. Fox]
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To Learn or Not to Learn -- That is the Question!
For years we have listened to politicians who have promised results in education, and for just as many years, the problems in our education system have continued to grow.
The present administration would have you believe that during the past three years, we have made tremendous progress in our education system. But reality is more sobering and national assessments of education progress in Alabama are more revealing. Reports published by the United States Department of Education indicate that 78% of eighth graders are not proficient in reading. Based on Alabama's own testing results, published in the Alabama State Board of Education School Report Card for 2003-2004, 44 percent of sixth-graders are not proficient in math, and 44 percent of seventh graders are not proficient in writing skills. Alabama ranked 47th in academic achievement, according to the "Report Card on American Education" published by the American Legislative Exchange Council in 2004. In 2005, 313 of Alabama's 871 public schools that are subject to federal standards have been designated as "needing improvement." In one county (Montgomery) 33 of 59 public schools failed national standards.
This has occurred despite record amounts of new education funding. In a little over 30 years, funding has grown from $422 million in 1969 to over $6 billion today. And this increased spending has occurred in spite of a decrease in public school enrollment of over 14 percent since 1970, and a corresponding increase in overall population in Alabama of over 1 million during that same period.
But something else has grown, the education bureaucracy! We have a 50 percent increase in the number of school principals and assistants, and a 42 percent increase in teachers since 1970. In one county alone we have six superintendents of education. The average salary of superintendents across Alabama is over $100,000 a year, some are making as much as $180 thousand per year and each superintendent have staffs costing hundreds of thousands of dollars more. According to an Article in The Birmingham News on March 3, 2006, as much as $800,000.00 per year is being paid to employees on administrative leave while awaiting trial on alleged violations. Some wait for up to two years, doing nothing, while drawing their full salary and benefits.
More money will not solve the problems in education in Alabama. History proves that of the top ten states that increased their per-pupil spending during the last 20 years, only two rank in the top ten in academic achievement, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council.
Moreover, many new school buildings constructed across our state have not alleviated the problem. The simple truth is that money and buildings do not teach children, teachers do. Parents have lost control over the education of our children and our teachers have been stifled by a bureaucracy more interested in politics than education.
Teachers are often threatened by their own students and lack of discipline has led to classrooms out of control. A recent attempt to provide teachers with liability insurance in the Alabama legislature was opposed by none other than the head of the powerful teacher's union, Paul Hubbert. However, I believe it would be a welcome relief for teachers to be free to enforce discipline in their classrooms without fear of civil action and to have a safe and secure environment in which they could do their job.
Teaching is a noble profession and teachers deserve our admiration and respect for the difficult job they have. If they perform well they should be rewarded, and if not, they should be removed. There is no more reason to keep a teacher who does not teach than to pass a student who will not learn. Even our children can see the error of our ways in a tenure system which keeps unqualified teachers and punishes those doing their jobs.
In a free enterprise system teachers would be well paid; however, in our public school system, huge salaries paid to superintendents, assistant superintendents, principals, assistant principals, and various education positions in the State Department of Education, absorb much-needed resources.
Control of the education of our children should be restored to parents and local communities while enhancements to our public education system can be studied. Charter schools, private tax credits, and scholarship granting organizations for underprivileged students should be explored. Education is about freedom of choice and not state control. Parents should be able to choose how their children should be educated and to what they can be exposed.
A parent can choose a doctor to treat his or her child, and can provide what foods are best for them. Likewise, parents should be able to choose where their child attends school without being penalized by having to fund two separate school systems. Often parents are being compelled to pay for a school to teach that which is objectionable to the parent.
I look forward to a time when our schools will prosper, and children receive the best education possible. There can be a better future for education in Alabama.
Let's Return Alabama to the People and control of education back to the Parents!
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