Big government ruining education

Published 10:51 am Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Our schools have a big problem. No, it’s not a lack of trained professionals who can teach our children the basic skills they need to be successful in school.

And no, it’s not a general lack of funding; everywhere you look in Southampton County (except Capron) there’s a shiny new state-of-the-art elementary school that’s fully equipped with all the essentials. And even the older ones like Capron are more than adequate for getting the job done.

And no, we don’t have principals running our schools who are, generally speaking, incompetent and ill-equipped. Our school boards typically make pretty good decisions. We have local governments supportive of the schools’ actions. The community generally cares about the quality of the product the schools are producing.

So what’s the problem?

The big problem we have with our public schools today is that the mandates being passed down regarding how we will teach our children and, more importantly, what will be deemed a successful educational experience for our children, are being developed by our big, fat, bloated federal government in Washington, D.C., which has no more of a clue about how to teach little Susie to read than it does how to balance a budget.

Or seemingly much else either, for that matter.

Here’s a little refresher on exactly who is making the decisions on what and how we teach our children — the same people who produce the measuring stick by which we are to determine if we have been successful or have failed.

Our public education system is brought to you by the makers of the U.S. Postal Service; the people that can’t figure out what price the stamp needs to be for the mail system to break even or make money.

It is also brought to you by the makers of AMTRAK — 41 years old and still profit free.

The same federal government that wants to dictate how we educate our children is also the inventor of Social Security. When the crown jewel of entitlements first began in the 1930s, there were 13 workers paying in for one retiree, who actually had to outlive normal life expectancy to receive his or her first check.

By 2020, roughly three workers will be supporting each recipient. The first check will show up 10 years before the recipient is expected to die. These people determine how we should teach our children math.

The makers of Medicare, Medicaid, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Broke, broke and without a serious infusion of “stimulus money,” which translates into something meaning “yet more money that we borrowed from China that your entire family tree will never live long enough to pay back,” would be totally broke and completely broke.

They also gave us “cash for clunkers,” the program designed to have us borrow even more money from China so that we could trade in our old American cars on a bunch of new Japanese cars. Taxpayers wound up spending nearly $24,000 for each new Toyota and Honda sold that summer.

There are more examples of the ineptitude of our federal government, but I offer up these few just to make a point. We had a good thing going in our schools until the federal government got in the way and screwed things up … the way they usually do with most everything.

We have excellent teachers who want to educate and mold children into good students and tomorrow’s leaders. We have administrators who possess the ability to lead their schools to excellence. We have parents who care and kids who want to learn.

But we have a set of mandates coming out of Washington that are choking off teacher creativity, stifling administrators by creating an avalanche of administrative work for principals, and have an entire public education system focused solely on teaching our kids to test, rather than producing young people who can think and reason and survive on their own.

Last week, an editorial in The Tidewater News called to eliminate No Child Left Behind. I’ll go one step further and recommend the complete and total dismantling of the U.S. Department of Education. It’s holding our children back; it’s holding our country back, and it’s yet another example of how big government continues to fail the people of this nation.

TONY CLARK is the general manager and advertising director at The Tidewater News. He can be reached at