Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Education Should Be Our ONLY Issue in 2010 by Akindele Akinyemi

While people in the Republican Party are frantic across the country and are still stuck on old principles that simply do not work I would like to share some things about how minorities should be ready to take control of the very party that helped free us from slavery.

At least physical slavery.

Many of us are still caught up in mental and in extreme cases spiritual slavery. The fact that President-elect Barack Obama ran a campaign that had a strong grassroots network demolished our party. His message of hope and change damn near sounded like former President Mikhail Gorbachev's version of Glasnost and Perestroika when the Soviet Union existed.

The Republican Party are still ignoring, even after being decimated by virtually an unknown, the fact that minorities are needed in the party to help create a new reality that makes up America. No longer are the old White men in business suits but the party needs to reflect the racial makeup that is making America a melting pot.

For example, Oakland County Republicans are ignoring the fact that Mike Rogers, a Black Republican who lost his County Commissioner seat to Steve Schwartz this month in Farmington Hills, is well qualified to become Oakland County's Road Commissioner.

Here's the deal.

On the Oakland County Commission the Democrats want Rogers to become the Road Commissioner while the Republicans are blocking him to become the Road Commissioner. This is the perfect opportunity to show diversity in the party and these jokers are still playing the race card. I mean Jesus, if you can allow a quack like Glenn Clark on the Oakland County Commission to only show up at one meeting then how come they will not allow Rogers, who has a degree in civil engineering, be appointed as Road Commissioner of Oakland County. When you have Democrats showing more support than your own party then maybe it's time to examine why we are Republicans.

Ok enough of that for now.

As an urban conservative who think independently I am unbought and unbossed. My platform is education. In fact, any smart Republican or Democrat who wants to win any future elections better talk education starting now.

Education is the next great war in our country. The older crowd can reminisce about Lincoln, Reagan and Goldwater. I respect the Core Principles of how our great country was founded but I also respect my personal values that I walk by daily. This includes my African roots, culture and spirituality.

Education should be our next game plan. We have already discussed gay marriage in 2004, the War in Iraq in 2006 and the economy in 2008.

Now we need to discuss education right here and right now. No more excuses. No more bullshit.

Although policymakers generated a landslide of attention and multiple reform efforts, our education system is still in crisis. We have not solved the problems identified in the report because the teacher unions have consistently blocked meaningful reforms.

Our children should be learning about alternative energy, green technology and how they can benefit from this economically. While the auto industry needs a bailout Michigan needs a bail-in when it comes to education. Our state can no loner be at risk when it comes to educational reform.

Nationally, The U.S. Commission on National Security lately lamented the fact that U.S. students lag behind other countries in scientific knowledge and mathematics. Most recently, the Hoover Institution's Koret Task Force on K-12 Education released its findings after a review of the state of American education 20 years since A Nation at Risk. The Task Force found that the performance of U.S. public schools remains stagnant.

Certainly, we have seen changes in our schools during the last 20 years. Teacher salaries have been raised, student-teacher ratios have been reduced, annual per-pupil spending has increased by about 40 percent and total annual expenditures have grown by nearly 60 percent in constant dollars, from about $180 billion to $280 billion.

Note, however, that those changes were supported by the teacher unions. The unions welcome reforms that lead to higher salaries and smaller classes for teachers and more dues-revenue for the unions. At the same time, the teacher unions oppose reforms that would empower parents or allow private schools to compete on a level playing field for students.

One such change should be to promote teacher incentive pay programs. This is to increase student learning in the classroom. Research has conclusively found that the quality of the teacher is the most important factor in improving student learning. Therefore, it makes sense to use financial incentives to attract the best and brightest individuals to enter the classroom, reward the best teachers annually, and keep the best teachers from leaving the profession or moving into administration.

Some schools use a variety of strategies to attract and keep the best teachers teaching such as: paying math and science teachers more money with shortage stipends since there is a math and science teacher shortage; rewarding teachers who demonstrated their effectiveness through large gains in student learning with a large financial bonus; and encouraging teachers with a financial stipend to take on a difficult teaching assignment in a low-performing school.

Presently, 93 percent of all public school districts use a salary schedule to pay its teachers. The salary schedule treats all teachers the same whether they teach math or physical education; whether they are extremely effective or merely mediocre teachers. It rewards years of experience or seniority over effectiveness, does not take into account labor market trends or teacher shortage areas, and does not reward teachers for teaching in difficult situations such as low-performing schools.

I said a while ago that the State of Michigan should enforce alternative teacher certification requirements for those who want a career change. The current teacher certification process does not allow easy access to the classroom for “outsiders” to the education field, and favors teachers with little experience outside the classroom over experts in their field. Many professionals would love to teach in the classroom, part-or full-time, but are hindered by the many roadblocks and cost of teacher certification.

Of course, the powerful teacher unions do not support reforming alternative certification. Regardless of their reasons, ultimately, what does Michigan care more about: Protecting teachers or educating children?

Michigan could cut the bureaucratic red-tape by granting professionals, with college or advanced degrees and years of work experience in their fields, the ability to teach in the classroom by filling out an application, attending an intensive six-week course, passing a short test, and interviewing with a principal. The intensive class could include teaching fundamentals on interacting with special needs students, information on pertinent state and federal laws, ideas on handling discipline problems, and student teaching opportunities.

These are some of the more humanitarian issues the Republican Party could be discussing. Especially independent conservatives and moderates who feel that education should be reformed from the ground up.

The Republican Party can continue to ignore Blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities on issues that matter the most. Gone are the days of coming into the inner city around election time. The next great war on education will take place in the inner cities of Michigan starting now. You can no longer sit and wait to see what is going to happen. Parents want more educational options in the inner city. This includes charter schools and vouchers for private schools. This is a discussion we can no longer ignore.

The best way to swing votes for the GOP is education. ALL URBAN CONSERVATIVES SHOULD SUPPORT EDUCATIONAL REFORM AS #1 ON THEIR WISH LIST FOR 2010. There would have been no economic crisis if our taxpayers were more educated. There would have been no FAMILY CRISIS if our men and women were more educated. An educated population understands survival. This is the problem with the GOP......survival. It's time to talk educational reform.


maidintheus said...

Yes, because we've heard it said that when we seek things a certain way all these other things 'will be added unto' us.

We need to go deeper then social issues and preferences, even when we're right. The deeper root causes of these issues.

Education is one of those 'deeper' root issues. This involves MEA and economics as well.

We can't see clearly where to make a difference if we rewrite history either. We must always be looking at the truth and facts. For some, this may not always be pleasant as it sheds a positive light on the "other" party. So be it. I think this is a positive for conservatives.

I'm so encouraged by this focus. We must remain focused for the next several years.

A Conservative Teacher said...

Good post. I'm a conservative teacher myself, and I agree with a lot of what you say about education. Republicans buy into the meme and talk like Democrats on so many issues, including education, and this is why the Republican Party struggles. Check out my post for some of my posts on education!

Kevin Rex Heine said...

I disagree that education is an appropriate core issue for 2010. As I have posted on Right Michigan, our best bet for 2010 is to strip MEA of their ability to strong-arm uncooperative members by removing forced-unionization from Michigan law. Then, in 2012, when a Fair Tax and Right-to-Work environment are "rolling the snowball downhill" on rebuilding and reviving Michigan's economy, we slap Personal Education Accounts (read: "school vouchers"), along with other pro-citizen, pro-worker, pro-children, smaller-government initiatives, onto the ballot. But not sooner.

Consider it a chess match. Only in the rarest of circumstances does a four-move checkmate actually work. Make no mistake, we're going up against Big Labor, MEA, the Legislature itself, and Stryker's pocket book. If we spread our resources too thin, then we lose again . . . huge. Therefore, what we do is focus on a couple of issues that, when successfully executed, will set the stage for the larger sweep of the bigger agenda.