Thursday, November 13, 2008

The GOP Can Revive Itself Through Education by Akindele Akinyemi

The MAIN issue that ALL Republicans (locally and nationally) should be strategizing and executing right NOW is EDUCATION. I CANNOT stress this more than what I have already. This is an issue that has been ignored for too long and it is time that we brought this issue to the mainstream. Our children deserve FREEDOM NOW from the failing public school system that has been killing them since day one.

Academic Genocide is taking place right now in our educational systems. It must stop.

Some things to consider if you are still on the fence on this crisis.

  • Were you surprised in June 2004 when Achieve, Inc., a bipartisan, nonprofit education organization formed by governors and prominent business leaders, found that math and English tests for high school diplomas require only middle school knowledge, and that those math graduation tests measure only what students in other countries learn in the seventh grade?

  • Were you surprised January 15, 2006 when the Associated Press reported research results (headed by Professor J. Hubisz, President of the American Assoc. of Physics Teachers) showing 85% of middle school students are using science text books so full of errors and inaccuracies to make them unacceptable, and that honors high school texts are no more difficult than an eighth grade reader 50 years ago? Called 'terrible books' from a science standpoint and many science teachers have little science training.

  • How about the poll reported by AP: Voters consider public schools Mediocre or a Failure - 67% cite low academic standards. Or, the Gallop poll showing that 48% of whites and 57-65% of minorities want parental choice for private vs. government education.

  • Were you surprised in February 2005 to read that China produced 4 times more BS engineering degrees than the U.S., and Japan twice as many. Nobel Prize-winning scientist R.E.Smalley of Rice University reported "by 2010, 90% of all Ph.D. physical scientists and engineers in the world will be Asian living in Asia." The International Math & Science Study reported U.S. 12th graders were out-performed by 90% of other nations in math and 76% in science. In advanced math the US was out performed by 94% and in science by 100% of other nations. The American Association for the Advancement of Science reported 90% of math books and 100% of science text books are unacceptable.

  • Were you surprised in 2005 when the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reported that the testing of 300,000 students nation-wide showed that 82% of 12th grade students were not proficient in math and science - - even worse than 10 years earlier. 73% of 4th graders failed to gain proficiency scores. 8th graders showed no improvement in the past 10 years. (Imprimis, Feb. 2005, page 2)

Despite astronomical increases in spending, educational attainment levels have declined and are nothing short of criminal, especially in most of our large inner cities including our Nation's Capitol. Our graduation rate statistics are meaningless because we have been graduating students from high school with grade school attainment levels. (Twelve years of schooling is not twelve years of Education). I mean the problem IS NOT insufficient money. It might even be too much money. So when I hear President-elect Obama talk about adding an additional $10 billion to programs such as head start I have to scratch my head because where are we going to get this money from?

Instead of improving the system we have been dumbing down the requirements. Remedial education courses at our colleges and universities have been skyrocketing, because our secondary schools have failed to prepare students for college and the real world of work world.

Our public school monopoly controlled by the teacher unions and the educational bureaucracy are inhibiting real improvement. This is not a secret. If you think I'm joking take a look at the Detroit Federation of Teachers. When Robert Thompson wanted to open 15 urban high school academies in Detroit in 2003 he was met with fierce opposition from the DFT. Now, our children graduate between 21-38% in the Detroit Public Schools.

Think about this. Private schools, even in the big city ghettos, are providing better education at one half to one third the cost of the public school system. The major difference between public and private schools is the systems motivation and incentives. The public schools client/customer is the education system's bureaucracy. Public schools are designed and run to satisfy this establishment - not the parents. The private schools client/customer is the parents and everything is designed to satisfy them in order to attract students. Real competition with each other to provide high quality at a competitive cost.

Many parents know what I am saying is true. The system must be revised to provide for full parental choice and responsibility of parents for obtaining the best education possible for their children. The current situation is wasting our nation's resources, and more important it is cheating our children out of a world-class education and placing the nation's future at risk. It is ridiculous to think that our inner city public school system with a poverty rate of 33% is doing the job. It's not. It is time to stop fooling ourselves about government schools. They are not doing the job the taxpayers are paying for and are unlikely to improve unless education follows the example of business and engages in competition.

Education requirements have been "dumbed down" so as not to injure students' self-esteem. How's this for a reality check concerning outcome-based education, watered-down curricula and grading techniques which is the rage in some circles. Therefore, critics of government education and teacher unions are told they judge U.S. teachers unfairly, especially when being compared to other nations' educational systems. Fairness has nothing to do with it.

The Republican Party cannot sit and wait to be on the defense on this issue. The party itself must began to aggressively address this issue. The absence of competition is why a government monopoly on education is failing our children. Due to compulsory attendance, government schools rarely need to worry about attracting students, operating efficiently, or being accountable to the public. As long as taxes are being paid, school bureaucracies can count on a constant cash flow. With little accountability, it is no wonder that a significant portion of the budget government school districts spend has little to do with teaching students and a lot to do with bureaucratic administration.

For Republicans who think the economy is the most important issue in Michigan or the United States do not be fooled. Education is what leads to economics. A community that is self sufficient and supports itself based on a strong middle class and a strong educational foundation will be recession proof.

The issue of family choice has begun to move to center stage for an increasing number of African-American families. In such localities as Cleveland and Milwaukee, where school choice has become a reality, the strongest advocates of school choice include black parents. Among the factors moving African-Americans to school choice are such things as higher academic standards, greater discipline and parental involvement in private schools. Liberals have good cause to be terrified of family choice in education. Their stranglehold on African-American voters may well crumble, once American blacks recognize how liberals have stood in the doors of private schools, denying their children access to an education in decent school buildings with competent teachers.

I am in favor of ANY school choice at this point to save our children. Yes, this includes vouchers. You know the initiative that was defeated in 2000 by liberals who turned right around and supported the same failing public school system that are committing academic genocide with our children. I am i favor of a voucher system in failing school districts that are losing population and cannot make AYP.

While I disagree with President-elect Obama's position on vouchers he stated that he would double the funding for charter schools. But his close ally, Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland has been trying to scale back voucher and charter school programs to focus taxpayer money on more traditional public schools.

In fact, Obama's position on charter schools is extremely shallow. He reminds me of Gov. Jennifer Granholm when she came into office in 2002 talking about how she supported charter schools. It's 2008, we STILL have a cap on university sponsored charter schools and the regular public school districts, Intermediate School Districts and community colleges have made it hard to authorize charters for those who have a desire to help our children. Unfortunately, the Detroit Delegation in our State Legislature are..get this....SPLIT over educational choices such as charter schools. What type of NONSENSE is this? We elect our delegation from Detroit and they turn around and support LOWERING the number of students in Detroit Public Schools to receive state aid to 60,000. I hope and pray the Wayne County Republicans are taking notice of this act of chicanery as well as other GOP organizations in this state.

It's time to stand up and take education on. The GOP can make in-roads in the inner cities by conducting a strong grassroots campaign on educational choice. We do not have time to be scared and if my colleagues in both the Wayne County and Genessee County GOP needed some ideas to make the base more politically diverse, educated and issue oriented I just blessed you with something that can change the landscape. However, the GOP must understand that the battle must take place in places like Detroit, Benton Harbor, Flint, Saginaw, and Inkster.

Back to President-elect Obama on education he stated while on the campaign trail that forcing our teachers, our principals, and our schools to accomplish all of this without the resources they need is wrong. Promising high-quality teachers in every classroom and then leaving the support and the pay for those teachers behind is wrong. However, U.S. Department of Education grew K-12 expenditures from $27.3 billion in 2001 to $38 billion in 2006, a 40 percent jump. Between 1970 and 2000, total per-pupil spending in the U.S. and Michigan on education doubled in real dollars, yet national achievement results remained flat.

Obama stated that he will offer a $4,000 tax credit that will cover two-thirds of the tuition at an average public college and make community college completely free. Again, absent from both his education platform are any mention of school choice, except for a passing reference to moving beyond the debate of “vouchers versus the status quo.” He talks about parental involvement in education but ignores the ultimate form of involvement: empowerment to choose a new school.

Obama's rhetoric on education is really an underlying effort to inject more increases in federal funding, more unproven programs, and complete avoidance of a promising major strategy to remedy the existing shortcomings of public education. Sounds like what is going on here in Michigan.

This is why I URGE all Republicans to help create a grassroots movement involving education. This should be OUR ONLY ISSUE IN 2010.

7 comments: said...

I think you're on to something, my friend.

--Nick said...

I think you're on to something, my friend.


Akindele F. Akinyemi said...

It's time.

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.

Akindele said...

(1) Education is the primary root cause of the reason why things are backwards.

(2)Like I have been saying all along, we have to get out of this traditional method of strategy in the GOP. For instance, education is an excellent platform because the inner cities are suffering. I have already done the research on this issue in six inner cities in Michigan with failing schools. Shockingly, the African Americans, who are loyal to the Democrats, would CONSIDER switching their vote for a GOP base if it's 91) contemporaty and (2) free the children from failing education. Almost all household I interviewed this past summer wants educational reform.

In terms of school vouchers that will never happen until you amend the state constitution. The same with tax credits.

Any other issue that we discuss will place us at high risk. Education is a crisis in all demographics that we can hit a home run on.

I have observing the pattern of national debate the past 4 years alone. This year it was the economy. The failure of education is a national security threat and therefore can no longer be ignored. It should be our ONLY issue in 2010. And we cannot have a traditional method of deliverly like we have in the past. The educational war will be in the inner cities.

Kevin Rex Heine said...

I don't disagree that education is a key issue. I also don't disagree that we need to do things differently than we've been doing them if we hope to succeed.

Please don't confuse the Fair Tax with tax credits . . . they are most certainly not the same.

When I speak of core issues for 2010, I am referring to ballot initiatives. And, as I've discussed with several Grand Rapids area legislators, we cannot hammer on more than three lest we dilute our message too much and spread our resources too thin.

Unfortunately, in 2010 one of those ballot initiatives is already pre-determined constitutionally. The other two are "must-do" if we expect Michigan's economy to survive. And that includes any viable school system anywhere in this state.

Education as a key issue? Absolutely! And those three ballot initiatives will absolutely pave the way for further fundamental education reform.

1. The Michigan FairTax Proposal (as a core component) fundamentally rewrites the state's revenue sharing laws, which will send more funding down to local government agencies (including school systems), instead of leaving it in the hands of the legislature to distribute according to political favor.

2. The Right-to-Work Law makes dues-paying union membership optional, which means that the MEA will no longer be able to wreck school systems with screwed-up, anti-children policies.

3. And, to be perfectly honest, if Jon Stryker buys a Michigan Con-Con, then you can kiss any hope of freeing this state's children from a failing anything good-bye . . . forever.

Now all of these can be underscored by a desire for true education reform, or have true and lasting education reform hanging in the background of all three. And if something like a Personal Education Account petition starts circulating for the 2010 ballot, then I will not only sign it, but also circulate it.

But as priorities, these three -- should they fall our way -- open up the field for fundamental reform of Michigan's education laws and policies . . . but the reverse simply isn't true.

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