Democrats charge Republicans with favoring the wealthy with tax cuts. Republicans
charge Democrats with government waste and inefficient programs to the poor and
middle class. There is probably legitimate argument in both. What is incontrovertible,
however, is that American society is lacking the foundational strength that it once
Our government debt on local, state and especially the federal levels, as I have described in a previous article, is unprecedented and unsustainable. The family unit, torn apart by societal moral decay and a burgeoning of government misguided policies, currently has a divorce rate which is 5 times what it was in 1960 and now,
40% of children are born out of wedlock vs. 5% for children back then. Since 1960,
the population has increased by 58% but the population of Americans on Social
Security disability has increased by 650%, as reported by Fox News.
The forces influencing such a breakdown of moral values are varied of course, such as the cultural revolution of the 60's, government programs which incentivised births out of wedlock and a Feminist movement that preached that fathers are not that needed in the household since many women now earn their own paychecks. However I'd like to address the American school system and the effect that it has had in lowering our moral standards and the decay of society.
The school system starting from the mid 60's underwent fundamental changes through a new curriculum for teacher training and education philosophy. Ideas for this program, were brought forth in a document called - Behavioral Science Teacher Education and were gleaned from select private foundations and think tanks, universities and government agencies - all coordinated by the federal government. State education departments were expected to fall in line with the aims and direction set forth by the federal government.
As part of this retraining, the emphasis of education would be a behavioral modification approach based on emotional factors recognized in children rather than cognitive or educational achievements. Philosophically, the thrust also, was away from nationalism and patriotism and more toward globalism. Sound familiar? Today, America has a high school graduation rate of 65% and its students are rated among industrialized countries, 25th in Math and 17th in Science.
With the invention of new psychotropics in the 50's and 60's, the advent of "chemical experimentation" of children was advanced, forging the path toward medicating children with Ritalin and the like. Today, more than 500,000 children and adolescents in America are now taking anti psychotic drugs, according to a September 2009 report by the Food and Drug Administration. Along with this new model, disciplining students also took on a new approach, with a broader view of tolerance, resulting in a new trend of a tremendous increase of student violence, classes out of control and - in the modern era - to become an epidemic of school bullying, teen age pregnancies, drugs and an alarming number of children suicides.
In the past, mass murderers comprised men in their 30's, 40's and 50's. Mass shootings are now primarily perpetrated by teenagers and young men in their early 20's. The incidents of such horrific murders have multiplied by a factor of 8 since the sixties. Furthermore, it seems that most if not all, of the reported mass shooters were disgruntled students of public schools and victims of bullying.
Much attention is paid by Conservatives to the time when "G-d was taken out of the schools". In a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1962, it was deemed illegal for schools to lead children in prayer in the classroom. Such a ruling can seem contradictory to the constitutionality of the words "In G-d we trust" on our currency. The reason for the reference of G-d on our currency, it is argued, is that "G-d" can be seen as a concept of a "higher power", a concept which is universally accepted. It is interesting to note however, that this period, which comprised this ruling along with the revamping of the educational process, resulted in the biggest boondoggle to education that we have seen in the history of our nation.
Government control over education is starting to let up however. We've seen Charter schools spring up in different states, with some showing superior outcomes to conventional public schools, thereby giving parents a choice to subsidize those that are great or even just better than the government alternatives. We've seen a cluster of Charter schools in Harlem which have shown very promising results, where parents are lining up to join them with lotteries because there aren't enough of them yet.
Currently, Milwaukee has the largest school voucher program with 24,000 children already enrolled. However Indiana's State Supreme Court recently upheld to expand Indiana's school voucher system which would allow 500,000 students to participate in theirs. "The justices rejected claims that the law primarily benefited religious institutions that run private schools and accepted arguments that it gave families choice and allowed parents to determine where the money went." - Fox News reported.
The court also said that vouchers for religious schools does not constitute a constitutional breach. It cited the examples of religious institutions receiving municipal aid in the form of fire and police protection as well as other city services as a precedent. It is clear that the government voucher would subsidize the secular portion of education that the private school offers which obviously is not in conflict with state and federal constitutions.
Indiana's voucher program would not just be for the poor or for those in areas of failing schools as exist in some other states. Rather, it would be for the middle class as well. The vouchers reportedly would allow $4,500 per student. I'm sure many frum families would consider that a great relief! The NY State constitution currently does not allow school vouchers. The best we can hope for from our legislators is an acceptance of tax credits, which presumably would not be as significant as school vouchers.
We have choice in consumer goods, why not for education? We have choice for family structure, why not for education? Women have reproductive choices, why not choice for education? Liberals become incensed with indignation at such comparisons. They say that education is "different". Children should mix with other children of different nationalities and races, boys with girls and rich with poor - they will argue. "But shouldn't that be a parents' choice?" I ask. "NO" is the reply. Furthermore, school alternatives could be so broad that one would find whatever they want for their children. Private schools are not necessarily exclusive of diversity.
"There aren't enough private schools" is another objection from the anti choice crowd. "Private industry will accommodate" - is my answer. "Private schools will take all the best kids and leave the worst for Public schools" is another argument of theirs. Private schools want all childrenbecause indeed all children have great potential to learn - is the answer to that one.
Why can't we just admit that Liberals with the great power of the Teacher's Union, are controlling school education for the rest of us. When election time comes around in NY city (with the exceptions of Staten Island and a few Districts in North Queens, Far Rockaway and Brooklyn), the Teacher's Union is instrumental in mobilizing their followers to get out the vote for the Democratic Primary, the winner of which, ultimately becomes the winner of the General Election.
When I was campaigning in the 2012 election, an audience member asked a Democratic candidate what the candidate thought of tenure for teachers. The candidate, whose mother was a teacher in the Public schools, responded that the Teacher's Union was good for her family. This is the extent of the scholarship of the Left! We must demand that NY policy makers get out of the dark about school choice.