Education / by kevin murray

Our primary and secondary educational institutions are in complete disarray.   According to out of 62 countries the United States ranks no higher than 17th in any of the three categories of Reading, Mathematics, and Science, whereas our neighbors to the north: Canada, rank in the top ten of all three of those categories.  The United States is essentially no better than average in which we as a country spend in aggregate $591 billion on education or an average of $11,810 for each student.


One of the biggest problems is the amount of money spent on teachers and its accompanying bureaucracy.    A full-time teacher school year consists of 155-180 workdays, with days spent at work that average under eight hours a day; whereas in the private sector you can expect to work 225-250 workdays with a mandatory eight hours a day.   However, the biggest boondoggle for public teachers is their very lucrative pension fund.  While this amount varies from state-to-state, in Pennsylvania, for example, the pension per year is the equivalent to the average of the teacher's three highest years in salary, multiplied by 2.5% and further multiplied by the number of years worked.  So, if your average three highest years in salary were $55,000 and you retired after thirty years as a teacher, your yearly pension would be $41,250, a figure that cannot and will not be matched by the private sector.  Obviously, it behooves a teacher to do everything possible to boost their highest salary before retiring and the $55,000 yearly salary which is the median salary of a Philadelphia elementary school teacher is quite conservative.


This pension deal is a very good deal for teachers and a very poor one for the public at large.  If, our public teachers were the best teachers in the world as shown by our test scores in which we ranked at the very top, there would be real justification in their salaries and pensions being so generous but in fact, that isn't the case at all.  Clearly our teachers are overcompensated for performing their duties at a far less than optimal rate and producing students that are no better than average despite the massive sums of money expended.  But at least our teachers are teaching, whereas you cannot say the same thing about the out-of-control bureaucracy that helps run our educational system.  We have bureaucrats at the city, county, state, and federal level, with the most egregious of them all being the Department of Education which has a budget of $71 billion dollars and appears to have no direct beneficial success with student test scores or graduation rates.


We would be wise, also, to remember that Public schools were created in America to wrest control away from churches and our Protestant heritage.  It was not until 1917 that every state in the Union had compulsory educational laws; until that time, children were mainly homeschooled, apprenticed to a trade, or schooled within a church.  Since the start of compulsory public education the State has made an active and conscious decision to take control of a child's education from its parents in order to more properly indoctrinate that child in the ways and beliefs of the State. 


The State and its agents have failed our children, while weakening the foundations and the aspirations of this country and what it properly stands for: the freedom of thought and the freedom and ability to do the right thing.