John Livingston

Keep It Simple

I watched “The Idaho Debates” Public Superintendent of Scholls Debate on Idaho Public TV two nights ago and I came away with two big questions:

  1. Why is government funding a broadcasting outlet that supports a particular political narrative?
  2. What does the Idaho Department of Education do?

From what I was able to ascertain during the hour-long discussion was that it serves as a conduit to distribute taxpayer monies from the Federal and State to local school districts. If I were to become State Superintendent of Schools, the first thing I would do would be to ask for an independent outside audit of the Department of Education (DOE) and an audit of all entities that receive over one million dollars of transfer payments. No audits—no money.

I believe that we don’t even need a Department of Education at either the Federal or State level. An argument could be made for a Department of Educational metrics that would maybe need 5 people to man it. They could evaluate test scores of individual students and districts and see where people are improving the most or falling behind. Incentives in the form of grants could be given out to students, districts, and teachers based on performance and improvement of metrics. Good teachers would be incentivized and would be paid more. If students were home schooled, they too would be incentivized with student grants based on performance on the tests and improvement.

I believe our educational system is so broken today that it needs to be rebuilt. The first step is a big one. The money should follow the student—not the district or the school itself. There would be far more competition for grades, for academic achievement and for academic improvement. Students scoring poorly early on, and their teachers would have an incentive to improve. Students scoring at the top of their grade level would also be given academic achievement grants as would their teachers. Good teachers would be paid more, and students and teachers and their families would all benefit from competitive forces being allowed to come to bear in our schools and for students that are “homeschooled”.

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My wife and I were present during the Virginia Gubernatorial elections last year. Glenn Younkin (Governor), and Winsome Sears (Lt. Governor), engaged and challenged parents in Virginia intimately regarding the central issue in education today. “Do your children belong to the schools or do they belong to the parents?” When Terry McAuliffe answered that the children belonged to the schools, I knew the election was over. The leader of “the Parents Revolt in Virginia” was a Muslim mother who had worked for Barak Obama and voted for Joe Biden. Because of the pandemic and the remote learning being taught in homes, parents could watch teachers teach and could see for themselves the “woke indoctrination” and the disrespect that many in the educational establishment have for the Biblical, Enlightenment, and Constitutional principles that led to our founding. They watched their children fall behind in math science and reading and we are now finding out this week how our children’s test scores have fallen behind because the teachers’ unions lobbied government bureaucrats to shut down classrooms. As Winsome Sears pointed out during her campaign the people hurt most by those shutdowns were those living on the margins who didn’t have access to computers, or who had only one computer for a family of many children.

The problem for those in the educational establishment—in most States Democrats, but in Idaho Democrats and Republicans, is that in their desire to make children their “wards” or even considering children to be the property of the schools, the ruling educational elites have threatened the children of their constituents. Progressive and in the case of education regressive Democrats and Republicans that have long excused the abuse of children and women, I won’t mention specific names because due process and the presumption of innocence extends even to Bill Clinton Ted Kennedy and Anthony Weiner, have all supported abortion and “transgender rights” are now having to come to grips that parents are taking notice.

The “1619” project’s claim of being accurate historically, the demand for the supplicant renouncement of “whiteness” by street thugs and college professors, from the false claims of Black Lives Matter (BLM), and siren cries of “wokeness” by virtue signaling white suburbanites, all have become deeply rooted in the culture of our education system. A system founded on principles very clearly defined and embraced by our country’s Founding. Freedom of Speech thought, and conscience and religion are not respected in College Classrooms or in public schools. Political correctness and its bastard ( in the colloquial and not biological sense) brother “cancel culture”—I think it is a brother, but it has of this writing did not identify its’ pronouns: are concepts actively embraced by the educational establishment.

Big problems with education require solutions that paint with broad strokes:

  1. Give the money back to the students and their parents. “Let the dollars follow the students”
  2. Vouchers and economic incentives based on performance standards
  3. Replace the Department of Education with a Department of Education Metrics—maybe five people.
  4. Reintroduce competition into education—students, teachers, and school systems should all be competing, and economic incentives should be distributed to encourage positive results
  5. Audits of the Department of Education and any organizations—school systems, colleges, and universities that receive over $1million of grants may help identify where all the money goes and how it is spent.

We need a “Parent’s Revolt” in Idaho just like what happened in Virginia. The two groups that will be against this type of a strategy will be the teachers’ unions and the politicians that receive campaign financing from those unions. Most of the good teachers that I have talked to would be happy to see their profession released from the clutches of a “sclerotic” symbiotic government—teachers union hand.

For the sake of our Children and grandchildren we must “keep our eyes on the ball”. The job of educators is to help our students to become good citizens and provide them with the skills to lead productive lives. Math, reading, STEM, and Civics. That’s all we ask. Everything else is fluff and we don’t want to pay for “fluff”.

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