A Bold Way to Save Education in America

By Art Robinson

Dr. Art Robinson is an internationally respected scientist, educator, successful businessman, skilled public speaker, and expert on energy, medicine, and emergency preparedness. He worked on medical and defense issues during the Reagan administration and on energy issues during the Clinton and Bush administrations. He is a Republican candidate for Congress. He is hoping to replace the very liberal Peter DeFazio in Oregon District 4 in the 2012 election. If you would like to support Art in his campaign against DeFazio, contact him at Art for Congress.

The American tradition of public education began in one-room school houses when frontier farm families hired dedicated teachers to teach their children.

When I attended public schools in the 1950s, I received an excellent education. American schools were rated the best in the world. Those schools prepared me for Caltech, and Caltech prepared me for a wonderful life in science. I owe my career and accomplishments to the great start I received in the public schools.

Those public schools were locally controlled and locally funded. Teachers and parents worked together on the content of curriculum, student discipline, and all aspects of school life. In addition to being academic institutions, public schools became centers of sports competition, social events, and other aspects of community life.

Unfortunately, our public schools are no longer locally controlled. They are largely controlled by federal and state agencies and special interests empowered by government. Local school boards still meet, but the most important decisions are out of their hands.

As local control diminished, so did the academic quality of our schools. U.S. schools are now rated as among the worst in the developed world. This is more than a tragedy – it is child abuse.

When 50 million American children – in whose hands the fate of our nation rests – receive poor quality elementary academic educations, the future of our country is in serious jeopardy. The federally and state controlled public schools that are ruining our children’s educations should be abolished – and replaced by the locally-controlled public schools that served our children so well in the past. No school should be permitted to ruin the life of a single student.

A vast federal bureaucracy and numerous special interest organizations it empowers now stand between our students and our teachers. It should be eliminated. All aspects of a student’s upbringing are the responsibility of the student’s parents and any professional whom the parents wish to engage. Together, they should provide the student with the best possible academic opportunities. This effort must not be imperiled by those who use education for their own purposes, rather than for the student’s best interest.

Americans have responded to the deterioration of their schools by providing more and more tax money, but more money has not worked. Much of the money never reaches the students or the teachers. It funds a literal army of non-teachers, administrators, and federal, state, and local bureaucrats – who generally spend their time making life miserable for the teachers and interfering with their efforts to teach.

Tax funding for Oregon schools is now, on average, about $10,000 per student year. Suppose that one of our thousands of great teachers were to be given 30 students, a check for $300,000, and asked to teach those students for nine months. Do you think the teacher would have sufficient resources? (Some schools receive less than the average of $10,000, but even $200,000 would suffice for this example.)

The teacher could rent the best room in town, hire an assistant, raise her own salary, buy everything the students need, fully fund all extracurricular activities, and have money left over. The teacher could, of course, do this more efficiently in a school with other teachers. This single teacher example illustrates, however, that education resources are sufficient – if the resources go directly to the classroom.

The local school board would assure that resources do go to the classroom and provide sufficient supervision, which need not cost much. Following World War II, my uncle taught school in Iowa. In addition to teaching a full load of classes, he was given a few dollars extra to be the superintendant of schools.

I have been an educator all my life. Starting with earning a little money for college by tutoring students in high school, I eventually became a faculty member at the University of California at San Diego, teaching chemistry to 300 undergraduates each year and supervising graduate students. Currently, our family business provides curricula, books, and teaching aids to approximately 60,000 home schooled students in the U.S.

In the 1950s when our schools were under local control, there was almost no home schooling in America because there was no need for it. Now, millions of American children are being home schooled because their parents want better educations for them than are provided in the academically inferior schools that are under federal, state, and special interest political control.

Not even nuclear war could “abolish” American public education. It is an integral part of our way of life. However, American schools must be returned to local control. The federal Department of Education should be closed, and education returned entirely to the states and the people as the Constitution specifies. The states and localities can collect the needed taxes. No increase in overall taxes would be needed.

Local control is close to the parents, where real concern for the student lies. Also, local control places our school districts in competition with each other for academic excellence, so students benefit.

Improvement of our public schools cannot wait. It cannot be neglected in hopes that they will gradually improve over the coming decades. The 50 million children in these schools now will not have a second chance at some future date.

Beyond high school, the U.S. system of private and public universities is also functioning below its potential because of political control. Oregon State University, located in Oregon District 4, serves as an example. This university receives more than $250 million in federal research dollars each year, including approximately $30 million as direct earmark funding from incumbent Congressmen during the last congressional session. By comparison, OSU private funding for research is now less than $6 million.

Is it any surprise, therefore, that in the 2010 election, OSU facilities and personnel were mobilized in favor of the incumbent Congressional candidate in District 4 and against the challenger? OSU courses often contain partisan political content, even science courses with no logical political purpose. OSU has become a very partisan political institution, which can lead to reprehensible injustices to students, as evidenced by my own family.

By contrast, the California Institute of Technology receives only about half of its funds from political sources. The other half is supported by income from Caltech’s endowment, which mitigates the effect of outside political influence.

Oregon State University and the University of Oregon (also in Oregon District 4) are very important institutions. Both universities would, however, be much better off if they were not completely dependent upon politicians for their immediate existence. Very large independent endowments should be built for both universities. These could be built with both public and private funds, but then be administered by the universities without political control.

Public education, from first grade to the university levels should be as independent of federal and state political influence as possible.

Art Robinson for U.S. Congress
P.O. Box 1250
Cave Junction, OR 97523
(541) 255-2785

www.ArtForCongress.com

Comments

comments

  • http://freenorthcarolina.blogspot.com Brock Townsend

    You forgot to mention his excellent homeschooling curriculum that we use.

    http://freenorthcarolina.blogspot.com/2010/10/sci...

    • The Godfather

      Art did mention it in the article: "Currently, our family business provides curricula, books, and teaching aids to approximately 60,000 home schooled students in the U.S."

  • D Craze

    I think public schools are purposely trying to subvert our youth. If anyone truly cares about their children, they should get them out of public school as fast as possible.

    • bigfoot

      D Craze.....trying to subvert????.....they have and are doing this. Public education is so dumb'd down that the books my kids bring home is all lies. Nothing is even remotely close to the books we had when I was in school back in the 70's. And of course the books today are all written as politically correct. I blame the parents for not getting involved and demanding a better schooling for their kids.

      • D Craze

        I blame the parents also, but I can see how it happened. I was unaware until I tried to talk to my nephew. He just graduated and wouldn't condemn anything or anyone. The most frustrating conversation I ever had. Truly dumb people are easier to talk to than present day grads from high school, at least in this case. Ever since I been looking into it and am convinced that changing the government will take some time. So I think parents should homeschool. It is a lot easier than most people think and if noone shows up in school maybe they will get the message faster.

  • Supertad108

    If we don't do something soon ALL our children will be dumbed down, drugged up and totally dependent on the FedGov and Big Pharma. Why do you think we have all these new found conditions that require we medicate our ENTIRE youth? These crooks and criminals are working hand in hand to destroy this country from the cradle to the grave. Wait for it... home schooling soon to become illegal. We can't allow the home schoolers to miss out on that prized social engineering provided by the almighty GOV.

  • uwho

    This is what is coming soon. We must get rid of this totalitarian government. It's called civil disorbedience. If enough people do it, what can they do? http://www.wnd.com/?pageId=363261

  • Monte

    Our public schools have become indoctrination camps for the latest leftist, godless crusade. As a result, our schools are rated the poorest in the industrial world. A return to local control is the best remedy. The Feds have made a mess of it, like they have everything else they have touched.

  • stevor

    Sure, the "good old days" were sure good (not really). Sure, HIS school was good but in many other places (poor places or places with low education) the education of ALL there was poor. The standards for the local area were super low. A couple of decades ago, I even saw this with 8th graders told in a poor neighborhood that they'd "pass" if they didn't cause trouble. They didn't have to actually learn anything.

    State and Federal "takeover" of standards is good in theory, but, unfortunately, there are still those same poor/low education areas where the parents have low standards and the kids don't understand "working hard at school" because their parents "did fine" without an education. That'd be okay, but with "integration" (busing) of students to less poor areas, the teachers have to lower their standards (partially because kids move so much that they never learn and are constantly behind and thus the whole class has to constantly "catch up" and not "move ahead").

    There is no easy answer. I think online education would help in that it would allow the fast to go fast and computers have ultimate patience to be as slow as the slow kids need.

  • screw osama obama

    It seems that no one is paying attention to the fact that home schooled children score much higher in all testing venues then do "public schooled children"
    And they are not forced to listen to the commie left wing blather that is part and parcel of the education (see brain washing) system.

  • http://google.com Bob

    THERE ARE A LOT OF DEPARTMENTS IN WASHINGTON THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE AWAY WITH AN TURN OVER TO THE STATES. EDUCATION, EPA, DOE, DOT, THAT JUST SOME OF THEM. THE DEPT HEAD'S EARN 4 M A YEAR AN THEN THEIR NO MONEY TO RUN THE DEPT. FED.'S NEED TO STAY OUT OF STATE BUSINESS. THE FEDERAL GOV. IS MORE IN TO STEALING MONEY FROM THE STATES THEN TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS. WE NEED TO FIRE ALL OF THE DEMOCRAT'S AN AT LEAST HALF OF THE GOP. PARTY AN START OVER AGAIN THEN HAVE ANOTHER FIRING SPREE JUST TO MAKE SURE WE GET THEM ALL.

  • KJQ

    Public schools are no longer about educating children but indoctrinating them. If you want the details, read any of the books by John Taylor Gatto. Home educating your children or sending them to a private school are the only ways to prevent them from being brainwashed. The public education system is beyond repair, in my humble opinion.

  • Tom Morofski

    With God, ALL things are possible.
    Friends, I'm sure we agree that our currant public school system is an absolute disaster. Not a doubt about it.
    On the other hand, we as a nation posess some of the very finest private, church sponsored schools in history. Is there a lesson to be learned here?
    May our Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on us all for sitting idly by while our society was being over-run by less than desireable forces bent on destroying all that our Lord has blessed us wit,. and, may we by the His power and strength determine to begin again to DO THE RIGHT THING ....... IN ALL THINGS! Amen.

  • http://www.wastewatchersinc.org Richard Ahern

    School Choice-Competition sets higher standards. That is good for state schools. However, that state schools have the incentive to strive to reach those higher stanfards is doubful. Lack of incentives to provide good education is their current proble, it is the flaw in socialized education. If state schools cannot comptete in open competition with private ines, they they should not survive.

    The Supreme Court ruled in Pierce v Society of Sisters, 1925 (268 US 510) that parents have a right to direct the upbringing and education of their children: "The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the State to standarize its children by forceing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the State

  • http://yahoo.com Thomas Martin

    Shame we let our government grow so big to let them ruin our lives on a daily bases. This government is working against us not for us. Anti America, anti Christian, anti Free speach, anti military, anti closing our borders, anti small business, and anti constitution, anti Bill of rights and anti the declaration of independence anti drilling for our own energy, and the list is a mile long.

    We need to fire all 535 and replace them with true American that love our country and our constitution.

    From obama on down we need term limits, that includes the appointed fro life supreme court justice. Some of those were dead from the neck up when appointed.

    When the one who is in the oval office loses his jobs they go as well no more super glued to the seat suprem court justice.

    Vote out these anti American hating crooks and want to be dictators in 2012.

  • 1599

    The American education system should be restructured so that kids start school at the age of five and receive his/her high school diploma by the age of 16. Practically every child would complete high school. Furthermore, high schools facilities could provide 2 years college education for the students who want to continue at no charge to the student. Many teachers today have a masters degree and should be capable of teaching basic college level courses..

  • R. Cook

    College and universities in almost every case have become institutions of indoctrination to set in concrete the pre-indoctrination students recieve earlier in their education. I have a solution.

    All legitimate college courses should be placed on DVDs like those available on the "Great Courses" site. Then there should be a standardized test created that would be administered similar to the "Bar exams". If a person passed they would recieve their degree. The cost of higher education would plummet and Indoctrination would be limited to actual courses on politics.

  • Blair Franconia, NH

    Michael Moore is full of hot air.

    • Sergio Sr.

      Michael Moron is hot air.

  • Blair Franconia, NH

    One word: Vouchers.

  • Robert Conner

    Another reason that our public school have gone downhill, is that God ( and any mention of Jesus) and the Bible (including prayer) has been kicked out of the schools, in the name of "separation of church and state," which is not in the Consitution at all. They also want to bring in bi-lingual education, politically correct history and "gay pride." Education used to teach how to think, not what to think (indoctrination. ) And not hold anybody back! (repeat a grade.) While they give teachers "Tenure"
    And parents fight any attempt to disapline their chid!

  • J. Hunter

    Homeschooled ours for eighteen years! It was hard at times, but the results are excellent. We will soon have to battle the government to retain the right of homeschooling, so join a homeschool organization. Mine are now grown, but I will adamantly defend the right to homeschool!

  • Dan Clamage

    I have to agree with Art, however, the next Republican President can't run on abolishing the federal Dept of Education - he'll have to do it after his election.

  • Daniel from TN

    Several things must occur before the quality of education improves in the US.
    1. Get politics out of education.
    2. Get education out of politics.
    Other countries have accomplished these two things. We don't do it here because the people have been brainwashed into believing it cannot be done here.
    Other things must also occur to improve education, but all else is nought if these two do not occur first.

  • Carolyn

    Excellent article! Nothing will change as long as you have teacher's unions and politicians controlling the schools. Also, there are millions of children who are sent to school, not to learn, but to have a babysitter. These parent or parents could care less about their children and most get all their free meals at achool. Do you really think these deadbeats are going to help their children get an education? Most have no father and many not a mother either. They are raised by old auntie or grandmother. These kids drop out of school early and roam the streets, joining gangs, selling drugs and/or stealing. Our prisons are full of these kids who have never had a chance. If we got the school system back on track, little will be done for these kids because no one cares.

  • June

    We are now seeing the results of the education system in our polititians and government employees. Its all about what they think and no one else can know anything if they don't agree with them. I try to talk to the teens and college kids and they either won't talk about anything except themselves or they don't want you to tell them anything different from what they believe. They have no intention of listening or changing their minds if you try to discuss anything because they are so right (left). Very discouraging when their minds are so closed. We have to get polititians and socialists out of the schools. Get rid of the Dept of Education and return schools to the states. In fact return everything back to the states.

  • Hook24

    For those of you who are commenting on the lamentable state of public education, I would just remind you that there is one candidate running for president who has as his philosophy decentralization of federal power to states (and hopefully from the states that trend would continue to individual school districts). This candidate has pledged to end the Department of Education. Rather than have me tell which one it is, maybe a little research one your part, if you are interested, would give you a chance to see the education platforms of all the candidates and decide which one had the best plan. 60 years ago USA schools were #1. Now we are near the bottom of the industrial community of nations.

  • PecosBob

    Why can't the Liberal Democrats see that the government is ruining our lives and the country? Lord help us that this SOB does'nt get re-elected.