Mitt Romney: No Apology: Chapter Eight: An American Education. (IT’S THE ECONOMY MITT. FORGET ABOUT BAND AIDS)
MICHELLE RHEE FORCED FROM HER JOB AS HEAD OF D.C. SCHOOLS BECAUSE OF POLITICAL AN UNION PRESSURE
Romney’s Insight Into The Problems Of Education.
Based on his experience as Governor of Massachusetts and his own experience Romney addresses what’s wrong with American public education. He recalls his early education when he was taught to read by his mother. She read to him from the great poets like Tennyson. Thus when he arrived in kindergarten he was well on the road in his education. He was a public school student until he left in the seventh grade to attend a private school , Cranbook, where he learned among other thing to read and write well. Thereafter he attended college and later business school. He mentions he took two years off from college to perform his missionary work in France where he lived on a small stipend, about $600 a month in today’s dollars, to cover food, rent, transportation and clothing. (Sounds like an exaggeration.) This experience, living in France with people from all walks of life, taught him the value of a good education.
Romney gives his opinions about what is needed for the American public school system to make it competitive with places like Singapore or South Korea.
First, he notes class size has little to do with the success or failure in the education of students. He quotes from a study in Massachusetts where students in classes ranging from ten students to eighteen were compared and no discernable difference was found. (This study appears to be flawed because at some point class size does matter. A comparison between classes of ten up to forty students would be move relevant.) Also he found as Governor the amount of money spent per pupil made no difference in a student’s performance.
Romney believes that teacher unions while, protecting teachers, do little for education of pupils and in fact do much to damage the success of K-12 education in the United States. Tenure and seniority for poor to mediocre teachers is a big factor in the low educational scores of pupils. Another factor was that unions push for smaller classes which translates into higher cost per student because more teachers are needed, however, as pointed out above he feels that class size (at least) between 10 and 18 students has no effect on educational achievement.
Romney states that 29% of all American children do not complete high school. Even those that do, on average, score poorly on performance tests when compared with students in the other industrialized democracies.
Students that finish high school can expect to earn $400,000 more during their working life than students who don’t. College graduates can expect to earn $1,700,000 more than high school dropouts. Also high school drop outs are more likely to go on welfare, become divorced, or spend time in prison.
As a democracy we all have an interest in a well educated constituency because in today’s highly skilled world the nation with the best educated work force has a comparative advantage over nations with a less well educated populace. Also the broader and better educated the middle class the more stable the democracy politically.
Romney feels that education begins in the home and that homes composed of a female mother and male father and other siblings who have an interest in the child’s education is a prerequisite for a successful student. Also in studies of the top performing educational systems like Singapore and South Korea he found that the educational system hired from the top third of college graduating classes not the bottom third as the case in this country. Further poor performing teachers, as reflected in the scores of their students, were culled out of the system rather than given lifelong seniority or tenure.
Thus those students born into a stable marriage between a man and a woman that care and nurture the child both before entering school and while in the school system have the best chance at succeeding in school. Also attending teacher competitive schools staffed by motivated, bright and well compensated teachers is a necessary factor. These teachers do better at mentoring pupils and inspiring them to excel.
Among all children currently born to mothers 30 or younger 44% are born out of wedlock, 77% when only Afro Americans are considered or 46% for Hispanics. So many pupils are from dysfunctional single parent households
The financial and time demands on single parents are too great to insure the proper guidance and nurturing of pupils from these homes to succeed in school.
Teacher quality And literacy are an essential element in mentoring and inspiring students to do well. As constituted our present system, dominated by unions with political power, seniority and tenure rules that protect poor or poorly motivated teachers is counterproductive.
(What Romney doesn’t mention is that people with only a high school education are not expected to earn enough money to support the nuclear family he is talking about. He further points out that only about 30% of all Americans are college graduates. Thus the financial and cultural ground work of single parent families struggling to survive is long established before the children from these conditions enter kindergarten. These are the single parents of past generations that dropped out or did poorly in school whose children now are in the same counterproductive situation.
This is a social problem and the financial problems faced by high school drop outs and high school graduates are a root cause of the single parent situation which is a contributor to poor success in school.
Teaching is hard work and before teachers unions were established the pay was low and job security nonexistent. The unions bought a level of professionalism and requirements of specialized education to teaching. So the unions are not all bad. The problem is allowing teachers unions to endorse political candidates, donate to campaign funds, strike and collective bargain that makes them too powerful for the politicians they help elect to say no to their demands. This is generally a problem with all public service unions. In any case the inmates end up running the asylum)
THE ECONOMIC CONUNDRUM
(The core problem was evidenced in the last Republican administration of passing off the cost of government to the middle class, the people who produce the best students and the future leaders of our country. Under Bush the middle class shrunk and many of its members fell below the poverty line. Working class income has about the same purchasing power in 2010 as it did in 1975. Thus the people who produce poor students are not improving and the conditions that create poor students is stagnating or increasing. Romney’s plans are for naught if he doesn’t address the core social problems creating the conditions generating poor student performance.
This chapter talks about Kipp (knowledge is power program) or charter schools but it is far too early to prognosticate on the success or failure of this system. Also this system, designed to circumvent union and political meddling in the school system, creams off the best students for its programs and has had only middling success thus far. Also what about the other children left in the old public school system?
Romney mentions the No Child Left Behind Program created by George Bush but only to say only the federal government had the power to force testing, evaluation of school performance and to make sure it reached the public. In this manner Bush put the problems on the front burner of our society where it should be.
Finally he makes no mention of the celebrity and professional athletics driven media where persons of little education, sometimes of no ascertainable talent or skills succeed financially beyond the wildest dreams of the children in the K-12 grades. Thus the role models of our society are often not teachers, scientists and professional people but counter culture, tattooed musicians, fashion queens and athletes whoose career often burns bright for a short time.
What we need is a more just distribution of wealth in our society and Romney is talking about band aids.)