Crony education

The highly opinionated StarNews Editorial Board recently took the opportunity to broadcast their disdainful views of North Carolina Republican legislators, now a majority in the State General Assembly, while suggesting that an “effort to mobilize thousands of teachers to stage a walkout on Nov. 4” could “easily backfire.” Crony government education rests at the root of this issue, although editors divert readers’ attention to teachers. (link)

Editorial language by the Board “has been harsh” they admit—yes, and their words include defamation, slander and lies targeted to Republicans. For example: lawmakers, they say, “have demonstrated their contempt for public schools and teachers”; they “have belittled the teaching profession and blamed teachers for failing to work miracles”; and teachers have received “shabby treatment” by Republican legislators.

So, our state legislators are put down by the obviously angry StarNews Editorial Board consisting of Publisher Robert J. Gruber and Editorial Page Editor Tricia Vance—editors also agitate the activists who’ve been illegally hounding our representatives in Raleigh.

These two (or one) suggest that government-education activists “Inundate legislative offices and the governor’s mansion with calls and correspondence” and get in their faces at public events to demand answers. Editors don’t say what questions need to be answered, but clearly they want to help drive Republicans from office.

Of course, all this rhetoric is not about the teaching and learning process. Editor’s talk emphasizes teacher’s benefits and conveniences. They seem little interested in student achievements, or the expectations and concerns of parents.

Hidden behind editorial anger about “teachers” is a crony system that mostly benefits administrators, union organizers and statist supporters of the massive government education system. A lot of money and political power is at stake for them. Back in August liberals from the North Carolina Association of Educators, Public Schools First NC and Progress NC protested Republican policies in Charlotte and other North Carolina cities—the statist’s sacred Edu-ox has been gored. But what dastardly damage to education has been done by the heartless Republicans?

In several General Assembly bills passed last summer, homeschool families now have more flexibility in instruction; Charter schools, that offer parents other choices for educating their children, have been improved and expanded; vouchers to facilitate school choice are available to low-income and disabled children; public school districts will have more budget flexibility and transparency; other reforms include eliminating teacher tenure, developing a performance pay system, giving merit pay, using a grading system for schools and testing and instruction improvements.

These reforms are modest, but necessary to begin the process of accountability to parents and other taxpayers, and to help bring educational focus on proper results: students being well educated in subject matter and prepared to improve their lives—what “investment” in education is all about. John Hood, president of the John Locke Foundation based in Raleigh, explains it. (link) Change threatens liberal investments in control, empire building and personal conveniences.

Anything that disturbs established liberal practice and threatens the status quo drives government school activists to frenzy. George Leef, with the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy in Raleigh, describes one example. (link)

Ironically, these people call themselves “progressives” when, in fact, they support regressive education—unwilling to change to improve the learning process of students because they are locked into a system loaded with patronage, entitlement and cronyism.


About R. E. Smith Jr.

Mr. Smith writes essays and commentary on politics, American history, environment, higher education and culture. He's been published in print media and at blog sites for about 25 years. Smith's formal education includes B.S. and M.S. degrees from the State University of New York and Syracuse University. He has earned a 21-credit hour Certificate in Professional Writing from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Training/work experience: NYS Ranger School; U. S. Army, Corp of Engineers; soil scientist and forester with USDA; Assoc. Professor at SUNY; real estate agent; small business owner.
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