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Education in America is under attack, and for good reason

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,

Professor Scott Cracraft is no voice of reason in the debate that surrounds education. (That is) my first reaction after reading his commentary. This guy is channeling Donald Trump's outrage that generates far more heat than light. Worse, his fiery rhetoric represents exactly what's wrong in society today. An opposing opinion isn't just a different view. It is a cause to suit up in full armor holding an axe.

It's no mystery why students act out defiantly and dangerously when others with a different view speak on campus. Last year, at Middlebury college a fist-throwing brawl erupted when an unwanted speaker took the podium. Several people required hospitalization including a professor. Intolerance and disrespect for opposing opinion is being taught on campus by teachers like Scott Cracraft. You can feel the pulse of this hate by simply reading Scott's commentary. It transcends intolerance immediately into bullying, outrage.

The person with the opposing view must be bad, mean, and a lower-class being. Scott's commentary was a full-throated, personal, axe wielding attack on those who disagree with him. This is the only method of engagement Scott Cracraft understands concerning opposing logic. That he is allowed to continually scream his public dividing, hate-spreading, divisiveness without being silenced by his superiors reveals the depth of the dysfunction in education top to bottom. It exposes the solidarity of the wall of obstruction in education to change. Change desperately needed to address what has been a thirty-year trail of failure by any macro measure as it concerns both the quality and price of education across America in all parts of it.

Education in America is under full, frontal attack with more than good reason. The in-your-face refusal by Scott and his peers to raise the quality of their product, and stop the cost spiral has brought "competition" to public education like it has never seen since its founding. The belligerent, bullying refusal to fix education by those running it has forced the public to embrace what I call the "work around." New Hampshire just passed education choice. Parents can now remove their kids from public schools. They can send them anywhere they believe their children can access a better education using public money. The less wealthy now access the same opportunities as the financially well heeled always have had. I cheer the equality! Charter schools, private schools, vouchers and alternatives to public schools are flourishing everywhere with good reason. Tens of millions of parents demand a far better product than public education often provides. Surely so in thousands of inner city schools in every big city in America.

Education's poor performance is not lack of money. Every study ever conducted reveals America spends more per student than any other country on earth while getting the most average results. We pay for a BMW education. We get a VW Beetle from Scott Cracraft and his peers, if we are lucky. Often we are not lucky. Education lacks a structure of compliance and accountability that assures both cost and quality will be achieved.

There is no commitment to academic excellence or cost control. In fact it's just the reverse. The first, and only concern of teacher unions is job security, increased wages and avoiding accountability. It has been that way since Eve bit the apple. Try telling a teachers' union we are only going to pay for success. They will laugh you silly. Their laughter has resulted in head-on competition for themselves. When teaching finally becomes about the kids' bests interests first, not teachers' best interests, it will be the best day for kids in America since the ink dried on the Constitution.

When education finally becomes a business, operated like one, with the same dedication to excellence in terms of best product for the best price will be the day competition with public education can stop. We will then — and only then — get the quality of product taxpayers want, pay for and kids must have to compete in the global economic world of today.

Tony Boutin