I think this documentary is reason enough.
The following is a series of comments I made to a friends blog upon watching that video. I'll note beforehand that this is all highly reactionary, and that homeschooling is a very large, very difficult undertaking. It is only worth it if you can remain dedicated for the 16-18 years it takes to educate your child in readiness for college. Any slacking can cause more harm than the public school system.
That said, we begin my commentary in three sections.
Section 1: FOR THE LOVE OF GOD
This is going to be largely a running commentary on what I see. I was fine for the first seven minutes, until they got to the teacher protest. The following quote caused the reaction in the title.
"There is nothing that money can't fix."
Right, because money's fixed Iraq, it's fixed the blatant corruption running through our government (our politicians have oh so much money) and it's obviously a blanket panacea to all our problems.
Money alone is worthless. It is not the solution, it is only something that enables solutions. Assuming that money will solve your problems is as bad as assuming an unregulated and unchecked government will. Don't throw money blindly at something that isn't already working, or has no history of working.
At least they brought an intelligent person on board to point out how blatantly stupid the quoted statement was. Make that two people. Holy crap, that second guy's school is giving me strange shades of what people already do in Japan. Maybe that's not the only/best solution, but hey, someone has enough humility to look overseas for an alternative.
Concerning the guy who couldn't read... no duh 1v1 would have helped him incredibly. Same for the grandmother earlier who trained her daughter. There's a reason why home schooling is popular in homes that can support it. It has major drawbacks for everyone involved, but it'll do the job if you put in the effort.
We've finally reached the principle that should have been obvious to begin with. Bureaucracies and safety nets don't mix. So long as airlines, public schools etc. know the government will bail them out, there's no reason to make things better. Whether vouchers are the solution, I can't say.
Maybe I'm premature, but I've got that gnawing depression building in the back of me that's telling me that if anything is going to change, it's going to be because we dragged the people in charge kicking and screaming from their beds in the middle of the night and dropped them in a lake somewhere to make a point. This is one of those controversial and largely accurate reports that gets everyone mad, but remains to be seen whether it's enough to get them to act.
Section 2: MORE LOVE OF GOD
Look at the average SAT scores, South Carolina is tied (emphasis) for last at 993. Texas comes in slightly above at 995. Florida comes in at 996.
"We are ranked #1 in the country for improvement on SATs."
Congratulations, you still flunked, just not as poorly. I can't imagine how bad your students were doing before. Oh, so now we can't judge states by SATs. If you could provide us with another standardized test commonly used through the US, we'd be more than happy to oblige your blatant stupidity. Telling us you're making great progress is every intelligent manager's klaxon that something is horribly wrong. If you can tell me in detail what progress has been made, I'll believe you.
And apparently half the kids in South Carolina high schools can't graduate in four years. That might be okay for college given the various circumstances and notable difficulty of various fields of interest, but high school? It shouldn't take more than four years.
As an aside, companies are infinitely innovative at screwing you over with technology. Your phone service may now be cheap, but they're still needlessly preventing you from making your own ringtones on the cheap wherever they can. They've learned to be sneaky, but service is still better.
Oh they just hit another nerve, and I'm about to pour out the nerd.
In World of WarCraft, raiding must be done to get the best gear. Originally, raids consisted of 40 people fighting through a dungeon to this end. When Blizzard expanded on World of Warcraft, the new dungeons were only for 25 people (with a few capped at 10).
It is very difficult to convey exactly how much whining there was about this, and how very little all that whining reflected the vast majority of people playing. For a period of about a month if not longer, the general forum on the official website was practically plastered with topics on the subject, with a very large number of people expressing very loud and obnoxious disagreement with the idea.
Why would anyone do this? Because people are lazy scum bags. The truth of 40 person raiding was that at least 15 people were potentially afk, useless, or intentionally worthless. As few as 15 were doing all the work, because they were dedicated and awesome. Thus, Blizzard made a change to remove the leeching scumbags. The 25 person raids require 95% of everyone involved to be involved, and not just pushing a couple buttons while watching TV. Attention is required, because otherwise you'll miss out on the fact that the boss just began to cast an easily avoidable spell which will wipe anyone who wasn't looking.
Now, who would guess that lazy scumbags with job assurance would complain about losing that absolute security?
The vouchers or a similar system, should it be properly implemented, are a direct threat to the job security of the School Boards, the teachers, and the PTAs. Suddenly tenure is thrown out the window, because the school's survival suddenly depends on your performance. Slack off and you walk, because no principle wants to lose their cushy job (the obvious result of a failed school). Of course people who want to be able to sit on a job for 25 years without actually doing it would object to this.
Maybe the initial revision of school vouchers wouldn't allow children to attend the good private schools, but if it meant they could choose which of the public schools they went to it would at least begin to make things better. There'd be overcrowding for a while, as well as some undercrowding, but eventually equilibrium will be reached. If we let states like Texas and South Carolina who are already screwed try it out first, we can probably see how to do it with less pandemonium.
And low and behold, we now address unions, and how the exceptional get the same treatment as the mediocre. WOW I JUST COVERED THIS!
"There aren't really bad teachers."
And there aren't really bad players in World of Warcraft or Halo. And the internet is full of literate people. The war in Iraq will be over before Christmas. I have a hot and beautiful woman waiting for me in my bed when I get home tonight.
Section 3: ALRIGHT, THAT'S ENOUGH GOD LOVE
I think what ultimately gets me about these teachers is not that they have a monopoly, or that they protect those among them who are incompetent. What gets to me is that they literally are capable of holding our children's education hostage for their own ends. I don't think anyone should have that power. And saying it's the people who don't have that power who "don't really care about kids" really convinces me.
This really highlights the incredible danger of what a person will do for something they don't even know about themselves. People who are normally caring and compassionate will kill kittens in the right circumstances if there is the subconscious perception the felines are a threat to their secure existence. They don't even realize they're arguing against something cute and fluffy for selfish reasons.
Well it's over, and my semi-stream of consciousness is probably frightening.