Perry’s mistake

No doubt you’ve all seen it by now. Rick Perry’s debate gaffe was comedic gold: a state governor hemming and hawing his way through a bullet point that was obviously supposed to be a campaign touchstone but became a punch-line. Yet surprisingly little attention seems to have been directed at what he said just before that. In case you weren’t paying attention to that part, he said he needed to cut three things from government, including the Department of Education. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again.

“Wait, what?”

Where on earth did this idea come from? It’s outlandish; the idea that cutting the Department of Education in a country already falling massively behind in education will suddenly promote growth is ridiculous. The loss of regulation will cause immeasurable damage. After every push to increase scores on one science or math test, it seems that we keep falling even further down the ladder. In the world to come, education is the key to global relevance, let alone competition. Furthermore, why privatize education except to increase profit margins for a select few school runners? There’s no benefit to the students at all, and I can’t imagine many CEOs who would look in favor of trying to keep an inner-city school making a profit. It inherently  breaks down the equal opportunities for students even further, when schools are already struggling to keep doors open.

Eliminating the Department of Education and letting schools fend for themselves fiscally will be a nightmare of price inflation. As an example, private college tuition prices have skyrocketed over the past 15 years, while state funded schools have crept upwards at a small fraction of the cost. We can’t allow an entire system-wide spread of this problem.      Dire circumstances arise when we have to undertake a payment plan simply to put Junior through seventh grade.

It all seems to come down to the idea that teachers are somehow earning much more than they deserve. I’m not sure where this myth of the overpaid teacher came from, but it’s doing endless harm to the profession. No teacher I know went into the job for the pay; it’s no glamour job. By the time they have become teachers, men and women have already placed aside a more safe financial future or job security by taking a job in their field, instead using their talents to teach. Why would we attempt to further handicap their efforts to improve our children’s lives?

At the end of the day, money is an inanimate object, and it seems that we are increasingly trading in the future of our students for paper bills. Teachers and our schools are a service that will provide a return on investment, but we have to stay invested.

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