“The public continues to associate more spending with better education results, and politicians continue to tell voters what they want to hear. But for a very long time, the evidence demonstrated that spending more money on schools is not key to shrinking the achievement gap. The 1966 Coleman Report, named for sociologist James Coleman, who conducted the study, surveyed 645,000 students nationwide. At the time the Lyndon Johnson administration, most education experts, and Coleman himself all expected to find a strong relationship between money spent per student and academic achievement. Instead, Coleman found that spending per pupil was about the same in both black and white schools, and that learning didn’t increase based on such expenditures. “These results were acutely embarrassing to the Office of Education, the federal agency that sponsored the research,” wrote Abigail Thernstrom and Stephan Thernstrom in No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning.
‘. . . his findings suggested that spending more money per pupil, reducing class size, obtaining more teachers with master’s degrees and the like were not likely to improve student test scores significantly in public schools, as they were constituted in 1965, when the data were collected. But that was a point too subtle to convey to the press and to Congress, and the Office of Education dealt with the problem by producing a summary of the Coleman report that ignored its most important and most unsettling results.’14
Despite the fact that we now have nearly half a century of additional data that supports these findings, politicians and the media continue to focus on spending more money, reducing class sizes, and hiring teachers with master’s degrees—all in the name of raising achievement and closing the learning gap. Why is that? Because even though such efforts don’t appear to be helping students very much, they do work to the benefit of the teachers’ unions that control public education in the United States.”
Many people think there should be more spending to fix the schools, but just like anything else that is fundamentally broken and twisted, the problem is not spending but systems and incentives set into place. Jason explains how broken these schools are.
“Yet many of the policies that teachers’ unions promote show utter disregard for the needs of students, in general, and low-income minority students, in particular—not because unions don’t care about kids, but because they care more about their members, notwithstanding the treacly rhetoric.
“The teachers unions have more influence over the public schools than any other group in American society,” according to Terry Moe, an education scholar at Stanford. “They influence schools from the bottom up, through collective bargaining activities that shape virtually every aspect of school organization. And they influence schools from the top down, through political activities that shape government policy.” Moe said the problem is not “that the unions are somehow bad or ill-intentioned. They aren’t. The problem is that when they simply do what all organizations do—pursue their own interests—they are inevitably led to do things that are not in the best interests of children.”16
The AFT and its larger sister organization, the National Education Association, have some 4.5 million dues-paying members and thousands of state and local affiliates. And it is on behalf of these members that unions fight to keep open the most violent and poorest-performing schools; block efforts to send the best teachers to the neediest students; insist that teachers be laid off based on seniority instead of performance; oppose teacher evaluation systems and merit pay structures that could ferret out bad teachers; back tenure rules that offer instructors lifetime sinecures after only a few years on the job; and make it nearly impossible to fire the system’s worst actors, from teachers who are chronically absent or incompetent to those who have criminal records. None of these positions make sense if your goal is to improve public education and help children learn. But they make perfect sense if the job security of adults is your main objective.”
These schools have a master to slave type grip on the school system. As the education scholar Terry Moe says, they pressure school from the bottom up and the top down. This approach of full-time assault on low performing schools is a ton of pressure that the average school and administration is not equipped to combat.
Bottom up pressure:
“Through collective bargaining activities that shape virtually every aspect of school organization.” Terry Moe
Top down pressure:
“Through political activities, they shape government policy.” Terry Moe
Let's break down the negative effects of the teacher unions, in particular
“Fight to keep open the most violent and poorest performing schools.”
“Block efforts to send the best teachers to the neediest schools.”
“Insist that teachers be laid off based on seniority, not performance.”
“Oppose teacher evaluations.”
“Merit pay structures that could ferret out bad teachers.”
“Back tenure rules that offer instructors lifetime after only a few years on the job, thus making it nearly impossible to fire the system's worst actors.”
Jason explains that this makes perfect sense if your main goal is to keep your “members” employed so that they will dutifully pay their dues. Jason puts it like this:
“None of these positions make sense if your goal is to improve public education and help children learn. But they make perfect sense if the job security of adults is your main objective.”
Not to mention liberals have racialized schooling and made it difficult for schools to try and improve the worst schools through disciplining black kids (remember, many of these kids have little to no discipline at home because their mom probably works multiple jobs and the father is absent from the home).
The book of Proverbs says multiple times that parents disciplining their children is a means of purging or attacking the foolishness in a child’s heart naturally. Not to mention Hebrews 12 talks about discipline being a basic part of parenting, so that if God does not discipline us when we are in a lifestyle of sin, then we are considered illegitimate or false children of God.
“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him.”
“It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.”
Yes, Jason explains the politics that go into keeping the worst schools from improving administratively.
“Liberals who claim to care so much about underprivileged blacks not only relegate them to the worst performing schools but also the most violent schools. The Obama administration has chastised schools for disciplining black kids at higher rates than white kids, as if racial parity in disciplinary outcomes is more important than safety. Such thinking also assumes that the suspensions reflect racial animus rather than simply which kids are acting out. But if statistical outcomes prove discrimination, what explains the fact that Asians are disciplined at lower rates than whites? Are the schools also anti-white? Liberals do no favors for black kids who are in school to learn by sympathizing with black kids who are in school to make trouble.”
We must ask at this point, were Blacks always performing at a below average level? The answer is a resounding no. Before liberals came and politicized the school systems, newly freed Blacks were passionate, to say the least, to become educated. Under slavery, slaves were legally not allowed to read due to the fear that reading would lead the slaves to read books that implanted the idea that they should be free from their owners by other freed former black slaves.
Jason describes the situation like this.
“Between 1800 and 1835, most southern states passed legislation that made it a crime to teach enslaved children how to read and write. In 1860, only about 5 percent of slaves could read.”
After the Civil War, that prohibition would be lifted, and the formerly enslaved blacks were most excited to be able to read for the first time in their life.
“After the Civil War, '' wrote Harriett Beecher Stowe, “They rushed not to the grog-shop but to the schoolroom—they cried for the spelling-book as bread, and pleaded for teachers as a necessity of life.” Booker T. Washington, a former slave, wrote that “few people who were not right in the midst of the scenes can form any exact idea of the intense desire which the people of my race showed for an education. . . . It was a whole race trying to go to school. Few were too young, and none too old, to make the attempt to learn.”
The postwar South was “extremely hostile to the idea of universal public education. The ex-slaves broke sharply with this position,” wrote Anderson. “Ex-slaves did much more than establish a tradition of education self-help that supported most of their schools. They also were the first among native southerners to wage a campaign for universal public education.”19 It did not take long for elite black schools to appear. In 1950, fewer than 10 percent of white men in the country over the age of 25 had completed four years of college. Yet between 1870 and 1955, most graduates of the District of Columbia’s Dunbar High School, the first public black high school in the United States, attended college. In 1899, Dunbar’s students outperformed their white peers on citywide tests. The education establishment wants to dismiss Dunbar as a fluke, but there have been too many other examples over the decades to take that rejection seriously.”
Many impoverished blacks feel stifled by the current public schools that are offered to them and want to get a real education like the newly freed black slaves did. Thus, the idea of a voucher program was introduced. This allowed parents to take the tax dollars that were already being taken and used for education in the traditional public schools and instead, reallocate them to the alternative public charter schools (It is only for public schools as of now, but at least the kids are getting a better education).
Jason describes these public charter schools like this:
“These days, it is mostly charter schools that are closing the achievement gap, which is one reason why they are so popular with black people. Charter schools are tuition-free public schools run by independent organizations outside the control of the local school board. Polls have shown that charter supporters outnumber detractors two to one, and blacks who favor charters outnumber opponents by four to one.”
Not only do these schools not struggle with the same performance issues from the students, but the overall system for everyone is better, namely; parents, teachers, and students. Things are better for students/parents because the charter schools do not have the teacher’s unions at their throats at all times trying to serve their own selfish gains.
Jason breaks it down like this:
“Of course, what allows charter schools to be so effective is their ability to operate outside of union rules that put the well-being of teachers ahead of students.”
In the free market, if someone was incompetent at their job, as a customer, I could request another alternative person within that business or try and shop around for another equal service experience with another company. Since the money for the public schools is taken away from us by force, we are incentivized to try and get what we can out of it. Poor people have even more incentive since they have no extra money on top of the taxed money to choose or shop for another alternative private schooling option. Without having alternative public schooling options, people are technically taking part in universal education, but it is a terrible education.
Luckily, the free market competition forces everyone to improve. Unfortunately, the teachers’ unions do not like to be forced to change by anyone outside of themselves. They do not like that their students and their money are going to other schools where they are not present, and thus, they have no members (teachers) paying them for their “services.” Monopolies dislike having to adapt to their smaller competitors, which is why leftist liberals hate school choice as a concept and thus wish the existence of charter schools would have never come about in the first place or never, for that matter.
I want to end this first section of this article on school choice and charter schools with something from Jason on charter schools.
“Voucher recipients have better test scores, and a 2013 study found that vouchers boosted college enrollment for blacks by 24 percent.33 Moreover, it’s less expensive to educate children using vouchers (and charter schools), which is a boon to taxpayers. And the competition from voucher programs can push traditional public schools to improve. Thus, school choice indirectly benefits even those kids who don’t exercise it.”
Tim Bankes II
Tim is a Christian author. His worldview that informs his writing is Calvinist, Baptist, and Libertarian. His main series is his Christian picture book series, "About God for Kids", where he discusses the attributes of God in a way kids can digest. He also wrote a Christian Romance novel, libertarian book for beginners, and Christian coloring books. He graduated with a Bachelor's in Biblical Studies from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
He has written a book on freedom called “Are You Free” (If you are into listening to books I have it in audio also, Are You Free Audiobook )and he has written multiple children’s books about God. Be Sure to check out the podcast version of the blog, Labor for Truth Podcast. And check out “The Truth About” YouTube Channel. You can find his works at his amazon author page, https://amazon.com/author/timbankes. He even has a free digital ebook on how God is the creator. Get your free copy today at, Greater Creator .Also If you are into Christian Fiction, he has made his first book in his Futuristic Christian Fiction series free, Her Dying Wish