As the month of October closes I was reminded of President John Adams’ birthday (October 30, 1735), and his strong support and promotion of education. In Adams’ “Dissertation on the Cannon and Feudal Law” (1765) he stated that he believed that the best way to guard the blessings of liberty is through education.
In that dissertation Adams wrote, “Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right from the frame of their nature, to knowledge, as their great Creator, who does nothing in vain, has given them understandings, and a desire to know…”
It is your Commander’s opinion that our country’s educational system has deteriorated steadily since the conclusion of World War II, and one governing administration after another has permitted this erosion to occur. Numerous forces hold the responsibility for our continuing slide downward in educational achievement, appalling drop-out rates, and lower graduation rates. Tragically, decisions impacting our children’s education have been made on the basis of political consequences, and not the best interests of the students or the country as a whole.
Year after year our elected officials have thrown vast sums of money at education, and the consequences have been considerably less than repeatedly promised. Elected officials have continually bowed to the strong teachers unions, unqualified school boards, and special interest lobbyists. Students have suffered the results of political compromises and the politician’s almighty campaign for votes at any cost.
The problems and corrective action must address numerous causal influences, but it must start in the homes of the students. Parental supervision is increasingly inadequate, but politicians are scared to address that issue for fear of losing votes. The same is true of unwarranted union influences, because the unions throw tons of money at the politician’s war chests. Citizens continue to elect unqualified individuals to school boards, which then persists to look to complicit political friends for more and more money. Money does not automatically deliver improved achievement.
No one wants to answer why private schools, home schooling, parochial schools, and charter schools students all achieve better graduation rates, have less drop-outs, and have greater percentages of college/university acceptances. Devious political decision making just maybe the root cause of our educational failures.
A few powerful voices such as Bill Cosby have spoken to education’s problems, but few actions are taken by influential Washington officials. Our failure to improve education will certainly lead to the deterioration of our standard of living, increased unsustainable entitlement financial obligations, our competitive standing in the world, and our democracy itself. Why do we continue year after year to permit this tragic situation to fester? Where is the political leadership with the courage to address this national cancer with honesty and results oriented action? Lastly, why is responsibility and accountability always absent from the education discussion?