Thursday, February 5, 2009

More Money Will Not Help Failing Big Business, Big Government or Big ED

Oh, I just love it when I can use the teachers who get it label. The following piece appears on the website Family Security Matters. The following is from a teacher who understands more money will not solve education problems.


February 5, 2009
Exclusive: Bailing the Failing
Tom McLaughlin
Similarities between federal government “helping” the economy and “helping” public education haunt me. Government bails out failing businesses now the same way it’s been bailing out failing students and failing schools. Will Democrat Big Government fix our economy? I’ll answer that question by asking another: Has it fixed public schools? I rest my case.

Although math has always been a weakness for me, I’m fairly good at geometry. Why? Because I failed it in 10th grade. I didn’t fail because I couldn’t understand it. I failed because I goofed around in class, didn’t do my homework, and didn’t study. I had to take it again in summer school and I had to pass, so I did. I paid attention. I did my homework. I studied. Failure was good for me.

However, “Failure is not an option” has been a slogan in many public schools for a while now. If students fail courses, it’s the teacher’s fault for not doing enough to prevent it. Even if students goof around, don’t do assigned work, and don’t study, the onus is on the teacher to do more or expect less. Worse, if there’s a discrepancy between a student’s measured intelligence and his actual performance, a student can even be called “Learning Disabled,” or LD, and demand extensive government services. The LD label implies a perceptual difficulty and most lay people understand it that way, but that’s not how government defines it. That the discrepancy exists is enough, even if it’s due solely to lack of effort. There are certainly students with perceptual difficulties and it the LD label was designed for them. They work hard, but they’re forced to share expensive educational resources with the willfully ignorant who are often disruptive, but are enabled by government regulations. When government subsidizes something, we tend to get more of it.

Under our free enterprise system, we should all be free to succeed or fail. However, government is applying the “failure is not an option” philosophy to greedy individual investors who bought more house than they could afford, and to big corporations. Some are banks that squandered their capital on risky investments. Others are automobile companies that design poor vehicles, make them shoddily, and pander to bloated labor unions. They’re failing because they’re lazy, greedy, and out of touch with consumer wants and needs. They don’t like competition and they deserve to fail. What may save them is being forced to face the reasons they failed. Government bailouts only postpone that. Throwing money at the problem doesn’t solve it. Admitting failure and going into bankruptcy reorganization would force the issue.

Trouble is, union contracts would be suspended in bankruptcy court and auto workers would have to compete as individual workers the way their fellow auto workers in American Toyota plants do. Toyota makes excellent vehicles in the United States, and that’s why they outsell Ford, GM and Chrysler. Competition is good for workers, good for corporations and good for consumers. If the big three can’t compete, they should fail. We won’t run out of vehicles.

The federal government didn’t step in when big airlines were going bankrupt in the ’80s and ’90s. They couldn’t compete with newer, low-cost, low-frills airlines that started up after government deregulated the industry. Their bloated labor unions would not accept reduced pay and benefits to help their companies avoid bankruptcy and went out on strike instead. Eastern Airlines and others folded, but we can still fly wherever we want to go.

For decades, public schools have said they need more government money to fix themselves - and they’ve been getting plenty of it. See much improvement? Look around. School systems like Washington, D.C. that spend the most ($13,446 per student versus $9,138 per student nationally in fiscal 2006), and have the most big-government intervention, produce the poorest results. They’re beholden to bloated teachers’ unions – the biggest unions in the country – and they hate competition. Even the liberal Atlantic Monthly says: “For decades, an establishment of Democratic politicians backed by union leaders has ruled the Washington public schools, which by almost any measure – test scores, attendance, safety – are among the worst in the country.” No wonder Barack Obama won’t send his kids there. He’ll send them to private schools, but he won’t allow less-fortunate D.C. residents that option because the teachers’ unions and the Democrat Party would go ballistic. For teachers’ unions, enemy number one is competition in the form of education vouchers or school choice. Obama is the most “pro-choice” politician in Washington, but not when it comes to education.

Success and failure are both good teachers and one cannot exist without the other. If we think we can eliminate failure by spending money on it that we don’t have, we’re all going to fail.

Family Security Matters Contributing Editor Tom McLaughlin Tom is a history teacher and a regular weekly columnist for newspapers in Maine and New Hampshire. He writes about political and social issues, history, family, education and Radical Islam. E-mail him at

Spelling and grammar errors as well as typos are left as an exercise for our readers. Cathy

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