Tag Archives: school choice

My Letter on school unions from the Florida Sun Sentinel

Florida Sun Sentinel

Letters to the Editor

Tuesday, December 29,  2015

 Unions impede great educational outcomes

In a Dec. 28 letter a writer suggested that there would be no public schools if it were not for the education unions. In fact, this nation had a much better public school system for almost 200 years without the dominance of school unions.

What the unions have done is protect and defend failed schools and incompetent teachers. They have become among the largest and most powerful lobbyists in Washington and the state capitals. They wield enormous political influence through the billion-dollar pension funds they control and the millions of dollars they dole out in campaign contributions. It is no coincidence that their greatest political influence is with the big city Democratic machines where the worst education in America takes place.

School unions are bulwarks against programs that would allow parents to direct taxpayer financial aid to the schools of their choice — giving students access to better education. Such choice programs are widely acclaimed at the college level where unions do not exist. They are called Pell Grants and student loans.

 

Certainly, most public schools do a good job, and the vast majority of teachers are both competent and dedicated. This is not the result of the unions. The failed schools serving disproportionately minority students, however, is the result of education union policies and politics.

 

Larry Horist, Boca Raton

Here is my view on DEMOCRATS AND SCHOOLS (as published by the Florida Palm Beach Post on April 28, 2014)

SCHOOL REFORM MEANS TAKING CONTROL FROM DEMOCRAT “MACHINES”

Nothing will improve urban education until we (1) deal with brutal facts and (2) have the courage to apply real solutions. No more faux reforms.

We have innumerable examples of quality education in private, parochial and, yes, even public schools. These educations often come at less cost than failed urban schools.  In big cities, we have one failed system after another.

The decade-after-decade failure to provide millions of young minority students with an ability to secure opportunity and employment is immoral, obscene and even criminal. It is destructive to individual lives, and to the public welfare. It is our national shame.

To find the solution, we must recognize that virtually all failed school systems have one thing in common – they are controlled by Democrats. For political reasons, ghetto schools are intentionally operated to maintain a dependent ghetto-ized underclass.  Incompetency, alone, cannot explain these educational failures.

Political benefits come in two forms — votes from dependent uneducated and unemployed ghettos residents and taxpayer funds flowing from union coffers to the Democrat machines. That is why such common sense things as school choice are so forcefully opposed by Democrats and school unions.

More money is not the answer. It is no coincidence that almost all new money goes to wages and benefits, with nothing for the “children’s budget.” In some cases, unions have grabbed more than 100 percent of new money – meaning actual cuts in the “children’s budget.”

If we are to improve education, regain our international leadership, and bring minorities out of perpetual poverty and dependency, we must spread choice systems, prohibit teacher strikes, advance the work day for students and teachers, restore discipline to the classroom, protect teachers from nutty law suits, trim bureaucratic patronage, restore the American exceptionalism curriculum, return authority to the local school districts, fire bad teachers, shut down the Education Department, and stop lowering the bar with stupidities like “social promotions.”

We should not deny minority children quality education by a blind devotion to failed government run schools.

Here is my view on CHICAGO SCHOOLS (as published in the Chicago Tribune on April 10, 2014)

Vallas Has No Credibility Talking About Schools

I am the former executive director of the City Club of Chicago and president of the Public Policy Caucuses, and I was the chief consultant to both the Chicago and Detroit Boards of Educations.  I recently received an email from the Paul Vallas campaign promoting his bid for lt. governor. He refers to his experience as former head of the Chicago Board of Education as a primary credential.  He also echoes the Democrat’s constant call for more money for schools.

The Chicago urban schools are among the worst in the nation. They did not improve under Vallas’ leadership.  Instead of bragging, he should be apologizing, and explain his failure to improve the education of mostly minority students.

In calling for even more funding, despite the desperate financial condition of the state, he perpetrates a long-standing Democrat myth that the only problem in education is lack of funding.

Like all government bureaucracies, the Illinois education system is riddled with excess personnel and enormous waste. Most new dollars flow directly into teacher contract settlements – with nothing for the classroom.  In some cases, settlements absorbed 110 percent of new money – meaning the student budget had to be cut.  In other cases, one time financial fixes left the schools with unattainable out-year salary and benefit deficits.

The very Democrats who have deprived quality education to mostly minority students would have parents and taxpayers believe that the old failed policies of the past will somehow work.

They never will, because the students come last. The structure is designed to reward the unions for their role in underwriting the Democrat Machine.  They oppose giving parents a choice in education because every student sitting in a classroom is money for the unions and the politicians.

Vallas’ campaign claims are as pathetic and dishonest as those of all the Machine politicians who preceded him.