Five true things you really must know about desperately needed education reform in the United States:
1. Bad schools are bad because of all the bad teachers who can’t be fired because they have tenure.
It’s just amazing how all those bad teachers drag all those schools down only in poor neighborhoods. Yup, obviously there’s a central office somewhere that sorts out all the new teachers and sends the very worst ones to the very poorest schools. And then those bad teachers spend a few years in those schools very cleverly and deviously pretending to be good teachers, so the administrators are fooled into giving them tenure, at which point all their terrible badness emerges full force. And all those procedures for firing tenured teachers are *gasp* totally unenforceable because the magic mojo of teacher badness makes it take too long for any administrator even to bother, because administrators can’t possibly be expected to undertake a procedure that is time consuming and hard. This is so widespread that our entire educational system is crumbling because of it. So here’s what to do: Everyone break the glass on the case that says, “In case of bad school, use this axe on every teacher you see!” Bonus points for axing an entire school’s teaching staff all at once. Now THAT’S reform!
2. Teachers unions exist for the purpose of making it impossible to fire bad teachers.
See, a really long time ago, the nation was full of really good teachers, mostly women (because even back then men thought teaching was really gay), who were allergic to money and eating and keeping a roof over their heads. These women were wildly happy to teach school for some beads, a used tissue, and a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. But then along came some mean, nasty, vicious, conniving, sneaky, Commie pinko union organizers, who rounded up all the good teachers and threw them in a bottomless well. Then the union organizers went deep into the forest, where a tribe of very stupid, lazy child-haters lived, and they rounded the tribeswomen up to become teachers (because even tribesmen living deep in the forest, far from civilization, thought teaching was really gay). The union people dressed these women in polyester pants suits and made them join the union, pay dues, accept higher wages and benefits, and sit in overcrowded classrooms cracking their gum and doing crossword puzzles while their students fell off their chairs from sheer stupidity. And that continues even unto this day.
3. Poor parents must accept responsibility for their kids’ education.
After all, the affluent among us are such good role models for values like personal responsibility, discipline, and sacrifice! We keep the economy humming along by taking out second mortgages on our McMansions to pay the bills on the maxed-out credit cards that bought the home theater systems and the 3,000-bottle wine cellars and the 12-mpg Cadillac Escalades and the Manolo Blahnik blue satin pumps we saw on “Sex and the City.” So you people over there in Newark, as soon as you get home from that third minimum-wage job with no benefits at 2 AM - check your kids’ homework! We do! (Or we will, just as soon as we down a fourth mojito.)
4. You can’t fix the education system with money.
And here’s why: We already spend a lot on public schools, and they still suck. Not like those really excellent charter schools serving poor neighborhoods, like Harlem Promise Academy in the Harlem Children’s Zone. The kids there are all little Einsteins and Van Goghs and, more importantly, score highly on state standardized tests, all at a cost of 12 dollars a year and a pack of gum. Oh, wait. Make that $19,200 per pupil per year, attending school in a $42.5 million building, plus another $5,000 spent on each and every kid in the Zone per year, all provided by an outfit with a $75 million budget, two-thirds of which comes from private donors (according to Forbes). Whatever. The point is, IT’S NOT THE MONEY.
5. Market-driven private enterprise is exactly what our education system needs.
Because it’s worked so very well for the military and the prison system.