March 25th, 2005


School Daze

There's this news story I stumbled on today. Seems a 38-year-old middle school teacher in the Bronx, Wayne Brightly (what a name!), couldn't pass his State certification exam. He'd flunked the test too many times; this was his last chance.

So ol' Brightly gets a homeless man with a developmental disorder (you can't make this stuff up), Rubin Leitner, to take the test FOR him. He pays him two bucks. Mr. Leitner passed the exam Mr. Brightly could not; however, the State edjumacation people stumbled onto the scam because Mr. Leitner's score (posing as Mr. Brightly) was so much higher than Mr. Brightly's previous attempts.

Brightly has been suspended and may lose his -- get this -- $59,000 a year job.

There are so many things wrong with this (and with American schools in general) that I am temporarily paralyzed, unable to launch the rant that is welling up in me because too many voices are clamoring for release. Instead, I will pause, and invite you, in the words of the old Firesign Theater, "to meditate upon the pure, white light of Stupidity."

The Government's interest in education

Granted that schools are a good thing, why should government run schools? For a long time in our early days as a nation, the government didn't, after all. Then, when public schooling was becoming popular, the wholly-owned-and-operated-model was not the only one available to government. Be that as it may, in the realm of elementary and secondary education, TWO important governmental interests were identified early on.

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The case is different for higher education. Colleges and universities have a history older than our Republic. Yet we have added something to the mix.

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The question remains, though, what right or wisdom there is in letting government interfere with this goose that lays (we hope) golden eggs. At the elementary and secondary level, I would say that the State has an extensive right -- and need -- to interfere.

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We have put up with degreed dullards awarding themselves tenure for too long. I think the government is being defrauded by its schools, and I think heads need to roll. A new model is required for public schools, but it will not come from the teaching profession and its allies; it must be imposed from without by a government whose citizens are tired of being ripped off.