By Bradley Harrington
“Mass schooling damages children. We don’t need any more of it. And under the guise that it is the same thing as education, it has been picking our pockets just as Socrates predicted it would thousands of years ago.” — John Taylor Gatto, “Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Education,” 2005 —
The Wyoming State Legislature had a golden opportunity to institute true solutions to our “education” funding crisis this year, but -– in true, typical “mixed-economy,” “welfare-state” fashion, they dropped the ball again:
“The Wyoming Legislature adjourned late Friday night [March 3], ending a contentious eight-week session with a last-minute compromise to cut education by $34 million starting July 1.” (“House, Senate compromise on education funding in eleventh hour,” WTE, March 4.)
Keep that $34 million figure in mind as you read the following:
“The House and Senate have radically different approaches on how to solve the K-12 funding dilemma … The account that pays for school operations, currently at $1.5 billion a year, is funded mostly by mineral revenue, which has declined. The account is anticipated to have a 25 percent shortfall per year. Over five years, the deficit is projected to be $1.8 billion.” (“Wyoming education funding at an impasse as Legislature winds down,” WTE, March 3.)
So, just out of curiosity, what does that $34 million cut — which everybody from teachers to administrators to the Wyoming Education Association is busy hollering bloody murder about — represent as it relates to the overall projected education deficit?
Just a hair under 2.3 percent. Yet, to listen to the folks over at the WEA, you’d think the earth was about to open up beneath our feet and swallow our schools whole.
Yes, we’re in an “educational” crisis alright, but hardly anyone seems to understand or appreciate that crisis’ true nature — or the golden opportunity it presents to finally solve our educational woes forever.
Our “crisis,” indeed, is NOT that we don’t have the money to pay for our publicly-funded schools — but that we have publicly-funded schools in the first place.
To students of comparative political economy who are aware of the differences between market forces and government declarations, there’s a word that describes government ownership of educational resources: Socialism.
And, in typical socialistic fashion, what have our decades — centuries — of “public” education given us?
■ Schools that cost nearly twice as much to run as private-sector schools (U.S. Dept. of Education statistics routinely demonstrate this year after year);
■ A “one size fits all” approach to education, the result of its monopolistic realities, despite the fact that students, as human beings, are all individuals who learn differently. Would you expect to cloth all the kids in a public school with the same size pants and dresses? No? Then why would any of us ever presume that we can cram all their minds into the same “cookie cutter” mold?
■ An approach to “educational” standards that have more to do with what government considers as “educational,” as opposed to what human beings actually need when it comes to concept-formation and cognitive development.
Consequently, for as long as we’ve had them, public schools have functioned as an economic drain; have failed to take into account the different needs of different children; and — especially so, within the last few decades — have operated as little more than propaganda camps bent on indoctrinating students with dogma as opposed to teaching actual knowledge.
Now, why would we ever want to keep a system around that operates on those principles? Would it not be much better to turn market forces loose and just sell off the “public” schools completely?
Consider just a few of the benefits of such actions:
■ The $1.8 billion deficit disappears — as well as the future, continued economic drain of billions of dollars a year on the Wyoming state budget;
■ Families save nearly half of their education costs as they begin attending schools run for profit, thereby freeing up those economic resources for other uses;
■ And, above all, students will begin to actually learn things instead of being treated as cogs in a wheel requiring state programming.
So, far from freaking out about the foreboding future of our present “educational” path, we now have in front of us a perfect chance to challenge the flawed tenets of a flawed system in desperate need of a major overhaul.
THIS would be the kind of approach a rational session of the Wyoming State Legislature would bring us, were our legislators actually devoted to the task of solving our educational problems.
The fact that such proposals were not even introduced, much less debated this year — and that, instead, worthless “band-aid” cuts of less than 2.3 percent were offered up as a “solution” — tells us everything we need to know.
So, to the boys and girls in the Legislature — this year you earned an “F.”
Bradley Harrington is a computer technician and a writer who lives in Cheyenne. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE: This column was originally published in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle on March 19, 2017. Here is this column’s original downloadable PDF file.