Campfire Blog

The Economist: Teachers Unions Destroy Social Mobility

By weakening education, they create more inequality than ‘Wall Street,’ says magazine

The Economist has an editorial calling for a new “radical centrist politics” to promote an economic growth that lifts up the poor and enables all to flourish. But the center-left magazine departs from the usual line of the Ruling Political Elite, that we simply need to raise taxes on the rich to achieve our ends. One of the major hurdles to economic opportunity is poor education, and The Economist warns:

“School reform and introducing choice is crucial: no Wall Street financier has done as much damage to American social mobility as the teachers’ unions have.”

Economic problems are plaguing the world, even developed nations, as is seen by the turmoil in, say, Greece and Spain and the economic stagnation in America. But in the face of this, “the left’s only answer is higher tax rates on wealth-creators.” How, The Economist asks, can you create more wealth by going after those who are capable of creating it?

Read The Economist’s call for True Progressivism here (about a page).


  1. William L. Kelly

    Dear Joe: This is lots more than you expected. I hope you plow through it. Bill Kelly

    This will be a world changer. Please chew and digest the possibilities. The 14 year old Pakistani girl shot in the head for the audacity of going to school shall be bypassed. Women forbidden by hard liners in Islam, children in poverty ridden countries, people in every corner of the earth will have access to the finest education on earth. I believe costs for education at all levels can be slashed by 70%.

    I am a remnant of the Greatest Generation educated in multiple-classes in one room schoolhouses. We earned our title by producing benefits to society in massive increments beyond the threadbare school system. It became obsolete after WWII. My goal since 1982 has been a complete overhaul of education to the 21st century.

    Ignorance is civilization’s enemy. Global education is its salvation.

    Thank God Chicago was under attack by teachers unions! Rahm’s liberal world present boomerang feedback. The Chicago fiasco left parents
    and students disgusted. It has formed the perfect storm for my proposal to be implemented. The brawl will be intense but the battle must be won.

    When power mad people take over unions the original rightful and just causes get lost. A large percentage of teachers and administrators want out of the union. Relief is at hand.

    As a side benefit this will eradicate the education disasters created in several states including California and Michigan.

    I believe a trillion dollars will be spent over the next two years when cities, towns and hamlets spend on new, remodeled or acquired school related facilities. Property owners will be paying off bonds for decades—needlessly. .

    I need to present this to all Americans. It’s time has come. The army of people living off this industry will fight it but parents, kids, top notch administrators and teachers will love it..

    Our failed K-12 education system is a top threat to America’s survival. Who best solves problems? Government or private enterprise?

    The 3 million t teachers unions are spending hundreds of millions of dollars fighting change—successfully. The WSJ 8-6-2012 issue said “the dirty two dozen” shows union power in action for a win in New York state. Unions whipped top officials. All this will change.

    When power mad people take over unions the original rightful and just causes get lost. Sensible leaders and members lose their voice. A large percentage of teachers and administrators want out of the union. They will fit perfectly into my new education system.

    As a side benefit this will eradicate the education disaster created in California, America’s Greece. This takes on what governor Brown and other gutless state legislators have not. Note the California school teacher’s letter near the end of this email.

    If every city, town and hamlet would submit what they will spend on new or remodeled school facilities in the coming year it would be at least one trillion dollars. As is property owners will be paying off bonds for decades—needlessly. We must stop it.

    Think of the massive benefits for active and retired military. Personnel can pursue their education wherever deployed in air, on land or sea—even in subs. They can help their kids—and vice versa—with homework. What better use of time. In WWII our only communication was censored mail. It looked like a roll for player pianos. However, Dear John letters smacked just as hard as email.

    Virtual and charter schools are gradually gaining strength but America cannot wait for that evolution. I have fought this fight since 1996. WLK

    NEA Mission:
    The stated mission of the National Education Association is “to advocate for education professionals and to unite our members and the nation to fulfill the promise of public education to prepare every student to succeed in a diverse and interdependent world,” as well as concerning itself with the wage and working condition issues common to other labor unions. HOW HAS THAT WORKED OUT?

    America desperately needs graduates with information and skills COMPLETELY EMBEDDED before showing up for jobs. This will do it.

    Rather than have taxpayers acquire the $1 trillion dollar student loan debt have tuition slashed through competition to make it affordable to everybody. My 21st century K-12 system could easily expand to adapt that practice to Colleges/Universities.

    I believe my new K-12 program will cost $4,000 per student rather than the current $13,000. Had we been ready this year we could have saved at least $800 billion from this year’s budget.

    From my paper “Science and Religion In Conflict”.

    “SUMMARY: Civilization’s greatest enemy is ignorance. Whether circumstantial or willful, ignorance creates voids that invite opportunists who use myth, superstition, fear and charisma to sway uninformed people to serve opportunist’s goals. Obedient ignorance creates problems, obstructs solutions and is the ultimate weapon for terrorism, bigotry and war. Enlightenment is civilization’s best defense.”

    There are seven billion people–projected to nine billion by 2045—on earth. Non-industrialized nations are plagued with poverty, hunger, high infant death rates, hopelessness, etc. They are breeding grounds for discontent and manipulation. By modernizing its K-12 system and exporting it globally America can change the downward spiral of turmoil and fragmentation and bend the curve toward enlightenment, hope and peace.

    My first attempt to gain support for a new education system was an address to the Washington State School Directors Association at the Red Lion SeaTac Airport on June 18, 1982. “It’ Time to Scrap Our Education System”.

    I re-entered the fight to overthrow America’s K-12 failed school system in 1996 by presenting my paper “Learning or Doing Time” to the Superintendent of Schools and school board in my city. They were dismissive.

    I expanded my concept and began a quest to implement it nationwide. The following plan has been sent to hundreds of sites from the Department of Education, Congress, media, state and city education departments, individuals, Rhee and Canada, etc. No takers.

    Politicians and educators/unions have a long history of a symbiotic relationship consisting of union cash and votes for endless benefits, rewards and support. Politicians who understand the failures have always cringed and caved before union threats and actions.

    That is changing due to a new event, teachers unions were seized by power hungry heads of UAW-AFL-CIO-SEIU, “Workers of the World, Unite” crowd. Their objectives indicate a rigid government control of education not dreamed of. We break their backs or lose our children’s future.

    America’s K-12 education system is a swamp, convoluted and broken beyond repair. It shall be eliminated and failed schools auctioned using Chapter 11 rules to transfer physical assets. Healthy public schools can join in the competitive bidding to teach in the new system.

    Most rational and experienced heads must prevail to accomplish this task. Implementation must be radical, fast and effective.

    1. Eliminate the Department of Education.
    2. Eliminate all laws, regulations, rules, mandates, contracts—every trace of activities attached to the current education system.
    3 Install a new 21st Century education system placing total responsibility in the private sector.
    4. Offer the new system globally.

    THE PLAN—WILLIAM L. KELLY

    The United States outspends most industrial nations for K-12 education yet trails badly in science, math and problem solving. It is ranked average among industrialized nations. Our gargantuan K-12 education empire is a quagmire so convoluted that salvage is impossible. Here is how.

    HALT COMPULSORY ATTENDANCE!

    Place responsibility to become educated on students and those persons legally and/or morally responsible for them.

    Government usurped that responsibility and created an education system of compulsory attendance. Violators are tracked down and punished; some
    gain rap sheets. Large percentages of children don’t want to be and many should not be in school. They rebel, generate most dropouts–one million plus–yearly, cause disorder and disruption, exhibit criminal behavior, overstress teachers, bully innocents and diminish progress of serious students.

    Education is an opportunity to increase one’s potential for a better life. Motivated people seize opportunities but motivation is self-generated. Those determined to suffocate it and remain ignorant have that right.

    NOTE: In arguments certain to come never use the terms “fair or fairest” as a gauge on decisions. They are gauges for 5-year old children and adults of the same capacity. Decisions are “fair” if they get their way and “unfair” if they do not.

    Gauges built on emotion cannot be final and set the grounds for cyclical counter action. The adult gauge asks “is it just” in which quantifiable parameters can be defined and values attached.

    K-12 Education in America 2012

    Any U.S. citizen at any age shall receive a High School diploma upon passing a two consecutive days written and oral examination based upon reconfigured and expanded SAT-like exams and procedures. Exams will be offered quarterly. All exams are written, administered, performed and graded in English. There will be seven differentiated exams—modified annually–from which one will be randomly assigned each candidate. Each day’s exam is distributed the day taken. No aids will be tolerated. Apprehended cheaters are banned from taking another examination for two or more years.

    Applicants must register and be qualified, documented U. S. citizens meeting all legal requirements. They shall be photographed, fingerprinted and iris scanned to ensure identity and maintain performance records.

    Students are clients. It is immaterial how, where or when sufficient knowledge and skills are obtained for competitive levels that employment and/or
    higher education demand.

    Capabilities and quality of instruction will be quantified and verified for contractors and carefully audited and enforced. Education sources must satisfy a Performance Contract measured through unannounced monitoring of staff and conditions plus spot quizzes and cumulative records of effectiveness in transfer of knowledge and skills. Contractors annual ranking and contract retention depends upon the percentage of their students passing quizzes and the test. Unsatisfactory performance requires termination from the program. Those involved in the failed enterprise are excluded from participation in the program for at least four years.

    A minimum score of 80% is required in every subject. Percentages within the 20% zone aid in admission selection by higher education institutions
    or workplace hiring. Students who fail may take a different exam in nine months.

    Contractors establish their approach in detail to embed knowledge and skills in students to pass the exam. Cost, convenience, safety, learning support, innovation, effective and efficient practices, top quality teachers, etc. will rank the competition. Payment vouchers go directly to contractors. Finance comes from Federal, State and local taxes. Each state oversees its education efforts.

    Competition includes all education systems including public schools meeting current Federal performance standards plus private, parochial, charter,
    virtual, correspondence, home schooling and those to come. Failed K-12 schools enter Chapter 11 with all assets auctioned through competitive bidding. Retirement and health benefits for qualifying personnel are protected.

    A qualified reformulated facility can join the competitive education program. A large segment of top administrators, staff and teachers from failed K-12 schools will see opportunities in a competitive system that properly rewards not only their performance but also provides superior education for children who desire learning. Union membership is not required.

    High tech companies should be encouraged to support the programs with equipment, software and training as part of the program. Special laptop
    computers with carefully tailored software shall be given to students and personalized with iris I.D. to render computers useless to thieves. Bookless
    facilities should become the norm.

    Those wishing careers in sports, arts, entertainment, etc. require a different education that may be adopted by and coordinated through the YMCA,
    YWCA, Little Theaters, Art Schools, Community Colleges, State, county and city Parks programs, etc. They require a much simpler academic program
    with much greater emphasis on talent and skills. They may be pursued concurrently by students preparing to pass the two-day exam.

    The mountain of extraneous activities, causes, promotions, lawsuits, doctrines and endless issues plaguing today’s K-12 education are unsolvable since their drivers are those living off them.

    If children and those legally/morally responsible for them are committed to willful ignorance, are unmotivated and content with stupidity, it is their business and right—not that of government. They can exercise their right to remain unemployable and suffer the consequences.

    Those rejecting education will not be coerced to attend class. They can transfer their disinterest, resentment, feelings of inadequacy, envy and their resulting disruptive behavior. They will just be doing time.

    A reconstructed K-12 program will produce a surge of motivated, bright students to rapidly finish high school requirements and move onto greater heights. It will inspire dropouts and older people who skipped school entirely to re-enter the quest for education. In ten years the U.S. will regain its domination in brainpower and the productivity it brings.

    Imagine the leap toward ending ignorance throughout the world by over-riding physical, social, and religion-based barriers against women, children
    and students becoming highly knowledgeable in closed countries.

    We know Obama’s commitment to select, train and disperse 100,000 new teachers for science and math will involve fairness, race, qualifications, P.C., and hundreds of other issues. They will not be clones but unknown products in philosophy, temperament, bias, talent, dedication and many other ways.

    In contrast the new private sector school system will require only five teachers for various levels in each of the 300 topics. That allows rotation for vacation, sick leave
    and other activities while delivering daily lectures. They will speak to billions of students around the earth. To cover subjects required by the two-day exam I estimate 300 courses will suffice.
    .
    Imagine a 1,500 person cadre of the finest; most effective teachers lecturing over the internet to learners everywhere, translated into all languages as used by the U.N. Every state-of-the-art system and equipment shall be employed to supplement teaching. Animation will allow dissection of worms, frogs or any critter plus laboratory experiments from chemistry through physics can be done digitally without blowing up facilities. Software entrepreneurs will devise new programs to expand capabilities into design and invention.

    Five is the perfect number of people to address any problem. There are not ties in debates and decisions. Five provide the most alternatives and synergism. Each area of knowledge transfer shall be staffed with the highest qualified teachers with best resumes. Once selected they will manage their own development of lesson plans, etc.

    Selection of the 1,500 shall be left to a committee chosen by the private sector businesses that take part in the new K-12 system.

    The lectures by the 1,500 teachers will be supplemented by high performing teachers within high performing existing K-12 schools and all other competing groups heretofore listed within the U.S.

    Supplemental teachers and the students can store and replay lectures and lab tests for referral—for life. THE PRIVATE SECTOR WILL BE IN COMPLETE CHARGE OF EDUCATION. GOVERNMENT WILL BE EXCLUDED FROM IT EXCEPT FOR QUESTIONS OF TAXATION AND GOVERNMENT CONTRIBUTION OF FUNDS.

    Our new education system will blanket the earth and forever challenge abusive leadership through overcoming ignorance with tastes of liberty, freedom and embedded knowledge.

    William Kelly

    WHAT FOLLOWS IS BACKUP INFORMATION; ALL FROM OTHER SOURCES

    (BETWEEN 2008 AND TODAY I HAVE SENT THIS PROPOSAL TO RHEE IN D.C., CANADA IN HARLEM; HUNDREDS OF CONGRESSIONAL, STATE, CITY EDUCATION OFFICES; UNIVERISTY AND COLLEGES, EDUCATORS, HUNDREDS OF POLITICIANS, ELECTION COMMITTEES, MEDIA STARS AND HUNDREDS OF MISCELLANEOUS GROUPS.

    I RECEIVED ZERO SUPPORT. POWER TO THE UNION BOSSES, COWARDLY POLITICIANS AND UNCARING ADULTS!

    ***********************************************************************************************

    March 1, 2010, 12:06 pm
    Obama Takes Aim at School Dropout Rates
    By JEFF ZELENY
    Luke Sharrett/The New York Times Education Secretary Arne Duncan, far left, sat next to former Secretary of State Colin Powell and his wife, Alma, while President Obama gave his remarks.

    President Obama pledged today to tackle the dropout rate of American high school students, calling it an economic imperative if the United States intends to remain competitive in the global society.
    “We know that the success of every American will be tied more closely than ever before to the level of education that they achieve,” Mr. Obama said. “The jobs will go to the people with the knowledge and the skills to do them. It’s that simple.”
    The president proposed giving $900 million in federal grants to states and school districts that agree to turn around – or, in some cases, close – the 2,000 schools across the country that produce more than half of the nation’s dropouts.

    In a speech today at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Obama made the announcement alongside former Secretary of State Colin Powell and his wife, Alma, who lead the America’s Promise Alliance, an advocacy group dedicated to turning around the epidemic of school dropouts.
    “In this kind of knowledge economy,” Mr. Obama said, “giving up on your education and dropping out of school means not only giving up on your future, but it’s also giving up on your family’s future and giving up on your country’s future.”
    In his budget presented to Congress for the 2011 fiscal year, Mr. Obama proposed creating a system to improve how states evaluate the success or failure of schools. For the first time, the administration will ask states to identify the schools that perform the worst and have graduation rates of 60 percent.

    To qualify for the School Turnaround Grants, the school districts would need to agree to a series of criteria, including: firing the principal and at least half the staff; reopening as a charter school; close the school all together and transfer students to better schools in the district.
    The $900 million grants, which must be approved by Congress, follows $3.5 billion included in last year’s economic stimulus plan that was aimed at helping boost the performance of schools.

    The president said 1.2 million students drop out of school each year before graduating from high school. He said addressing the dropout crisis was critical.

    “Now it’s true that not long ago you could drop out of high school and reasonably expect to find a blue-collar job that would pay the bills and help support your family,’ Mr. Obama said. “That’s just not the case anymore.”
    The Powells, who founded America’s Promise Alliance, announced a 10-year campaign to target the lowest performing high schools in the country. They call the program “Grad Nation.”

    “We’ve got to catch our kids long before they drop out,” said Mr. Powell, who has served as an informal adviser to Mr. Obama during the first year of his presidency.
    ***********************************************************************************************

    A typical case from a California school teacher – - –

    “As you listen to the news about the student protests over illegal immigration, there are some things that you should be aware of:

    I am in charge of the English-as-a-second-language department at a large southern California high school which is designated a Title 1 school, meaning that its student’s average lower socioeconomic and income levels.

    Most of the schools you are hearing about, South Gate High, Bell Gardens , Huntington Park , etc., where these students are protesting, are also Title 1 schools.

    Title 1 schools are on the free breakfast and free lunch program. When I say free breakfast, I’m not talking a glass of milk and roll — but a full breakfast and cereal bar with fruits and juices that would make a Marriott proud. The waste of this food is monumental, with trays and trays of it being dumped in the trash uneaten. (OUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK )

    I estimate that well over 50% of these students are obese or at least moderately overweight. About 75% or more DO have cell phones. The school also provides day care centers for the unwed teenage pregnant girls (some as young as 13) so they can attend class without the inconvenience of having to arrange for babysitters or having family watch their kids. (OUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK)

    I was ordered to spend $700,000 on my department or risk losing funding for the upcoming year even though there was little need for anything; my budget was already substantial. I ended up buying new computers for the computer learning center, half of which, one month later, have been carved with graffiti by the appreciative students who obviously feel humbled and grateful to have a free education in America . (OUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK)

    I have had to intervene several times for young and substitute teachers whose classes consist of many illegal immigrant students here in the country less than 3 months who raised so much hell with the female teachers, calling them “Putas” whores and throwing things that the teachers were in tears.

    Free medical, free education, free food, day care etc., etc., etc. Is it any wonder they feel entitled to not only be in this country but to demand rights, privileges and entitlements ?

    To those who want to point out how much these illegal immigrants contribute to our society because they LIKE their gardener and housekeeper and they like to pay less for tomatoes: spend some time in the real world of illegal immigration and see the TRUE costs.

    Higher insurance, medical facilities closing, higher medical costs, more crime, lower standards of education in our schools, overcrowding, new diseases etc., etc, etc. For me, I’ll pay more for tomatoes.

    We need to wake up. The guest worker program will be a disaster because we won’t have the guts to enforce it . Does anyone in their right mind really think they will voluntarily leave and return?

    It does, however, have everything to do with culture: A third-world culture that does not value education, that accepts children getting pregnant and dropping out of school by 15 and that refuses to assimilate , and an American culture that has become so weak and worried about ” political Correctness” that we don’t have the will to do anything about it. If this makes your blood boil, as it did mine, forward this to everyone you know.

    CHEAP LABOR? Isn’t that what the whole immigration issue is about?

    Business doesn’t want to pay a decent wage.
    Consumers don’t want expensive produce.
    Government will tell you Americans don’t want the jobs.

    But the bottom line is cheap labor. The phrase “cheap labor” is a myth , a farce, and a lie. There is no such thing as “cheap labor.”

    Take, for example, an illegal alien with a wife and five children. He takes a job for $5.00 or 6.00/hour. At that wage, with six dependents, he pays no income tax, yet at the end of the year, if he files an Income Tax Return, he gets an “earned income credit” of up to $3,200 free.
    He qualifies for Section 8 housing and subsidized rent.
    He qualifies for food stamps.
    He qualifies for free (no deductible, no co-pay) health care.
    His children get free breakfasts and lunches at school.
    He requires bilingual teachers and books.
    He qualifies for relief from high energy bills.

    If they are, or become, aged, blind or disabled , they qualify for SSI. Once qualified for SSI they can qualify for Medicare . All of this is at (our) taxpayer’s expense .

    He doesn’t worry about car insurance, life insurance, or homeowners insurance.
    Taxpayers provide Spanish language signs, bulletins and printed material.
    He and his family receive the equivalent of $20.00 to $30.00/hour in benefits.
    Working Americans are lucky to have $5.00 or $6.00/hour left after paying their bills and his.

    The American taxpayers also pay for increased crime, graffiti and trash clean-up.

    Cheap labor? YEAH RIGHT! Wake up people!

    THESE ARE THE QUESTIONS WE SHOULD BE ADDRESSING TO EITHER PARTY. ‘AND WHEN THEY LIE TO US AND DON’T DO AS THEY SAY, WE SHOULD REPLACE THEM AT ONCE!’

    I AM DONE WRITING. TODAY WAS MY FIRST ATTEMPT IN MR. FRIESS’S OUTLET. I HOPE HIS SON ENJOYS MY SHOT AT REBOOTING THE K-12 SYSTEM. Thanks Foster for the chance to be heard. William Kelly



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