Written by Frank Salvato
To say that there are items that present in the news each day that make me roll my eyes would be to under-state the fact in a dramatic way. But every now and again -- and it is beginning to happen with more frequency, much to the detriment of the forces lending themselves to common sense -- there presents a story so outrageous, so infuriatingly hypocritical, so blatant in arrogance, that it conjures the forces of anger from within one's soul. The coverage of Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis' words to the City Club of Chicago is such a story.
Ever since the 1850s, when a founding faction of the Progressive Movement – an elitist faction consisting of anti-religious bigots – began to call for the government institutionalization of education in the United States, the American education system has “progressively” marched down the road of, not only ideological monopoly, but of political allegiance. Coincidentally, the level of achieved education in the United States has suffered a continuous and steady decline ever since...you guessed it, the 1850s.
The Heartland Institute’s president, Joe Bast, recently spoke about the state of American education at the Eighth Annual Wisconsin Conservative Conference. During his talk he touched on the topic of, “How the Left Destroyed Schooling in America,” of which he noted:
“Once they had succeeding in kicking the Catholics out of K-12 education they campaigned to ban public funding for all religious schools. They placed Blaine amendments on the constitutions of 37 states, including Wisconsin.
“‘Progressives’ and communists then joined the religious bigots to call for ending all public funding of private schools in America and to make schooling in government schools tuition-free. Teachers got on board because they saw it as a way to improve their wages and job security, and they were right, it did. Unions saw it as a way to make organizing teachers easier, and they were right, too, it did. Politicians saw it as a way to build a huge patronage army, and boy were they ever right.
“The adults who are paid to educate kids got what they wanted. The result is the system we see today: nearly all public money goes to government schools. Government owns the buildings, hires the teachers, dictates the curriculum, writes the tests, and even gets to decide whether or not it’s doing a good job. It sets the standards.
“Not surprisingly, this system evolved in ways that benefitted the adults who are employed by the system – administrators and teachers – and not students. Teachers get tenure. Certification requirements erect barriers to entry, and pay becomes based on tenure and degrees rather than classroom performance. Kids are assigned to schools based on where their parents live because that’s easier for the adults to know how many will enroll in a particular school next year.
“Control is centralized because that makes it easier for politicians and bureaucrats to enforce the rules on teachers, but it’s not good for kids...or teachers.”
It is important to note here that Mr. Bast speaks – or at least I believe he speaks – of the bureaucracy that the American education system has become, and, specifically, those haughty bureaucrats who rise to the top of this ideologically and politically charged apparatus. One cannot argue against the facts as they present, and one of the obvious facts is that the education system has become so bureaucratized that in many locations there are just as many “administrators” and staff as there are classroom teachers. This means more eyes looking over a teacher’s shoulder, more “litmus test” evaluations focusing on theory instead of best practices, and an almost constant fear among teachers about their chances for retention. To wit, it is next to impossible for a good teacher to teach, when they feel they have to satisfy the unnecessary demands of bureaucrats over concentrating exclusively on the education of their students.
For the record, and this is an important point, there are many good teachers in the United States who would like nothing more than to be left alone to teach their students. But the system, being what it is, creates roadblocks and cumbersome administrative work that most often has nothing to do with the actual education of the child. To Mr. Bast’s point, the “adults” got what they wanted...and what they wanted was good things for themselves; the child’s education taking a backseat to community organizing and political agendas.
So, for almost 200 years the elitist bureaucrats of the American education system – the same system that bestows honors on radical domestic terrorists like Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn; a system that awards collegiate positions to their fellow Weather Underground members; the same system that allows children to advance from grade to grade without the mastery of core curriculum because it may harm the child’s “self-esteem”; the same system that demonizes those who respect God and country – the elitist bureaucrats who cheer all of the above have been in control. And in a day when taxpayers facilitate over $10,560 per-pupil per-year nationally (New York, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia spent more than $15,000 per-student per-year on average in 2011), we still have one-percenter Progressive bureaucrats demanding more for the government trough – more for themselves, while blaming everyone but themselves for the disaster they themselves have created; a system that stands uniquely and exclusively responsible for the dumbing-down of America.
So, you can understand why I became irate when I read the words of Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis. The Daily Caller reports:
"In a scathing speech on Wednesday, the president of the Chicago Teachers Union charged that racism and 'rich white people' are to blame for the immense financial crisis facing the Chicago Public Schools.
"'Members of the status quo -- the people who are running the schools and advising the mayor on how to best run our district -- know what good education looks like because they have secured it for their own children in well-resourced public and private institutions,' the Dartmouth graduate charged.
"When will there be an honest conversation about the poverty, racism and inequality that hinders the delivery of a quality education product in our school system?' Lewis also asked in the speech. 'When will we address the fact that rich, white people think they know what's in the best interest of children of African Americans and Latinos--no matter what the parent's income or education level.'"
If Ms. Lewis were altruistic, I would have tempered by ire. But Ms. Lewis is a hypocrite of the highest order.
Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed writes:
“So how come Lewis’ salary is so secret?
“Explanation: Sneed inquired last week about her salary and was told ‘I don't know,’ by top Lewis spokeswoman Liz Brown. Her salary is not publicly listed, and Sneed was told, ‘She doesn't have to do so.’”
This arrogant, ignorant, pathetic, race-baiting, disgrace of a human being collected -- for a partial year's work -- a salary of $71,330 as Chicago Teachers Union president. And because her predecessor commanded a salary of $211,119 annually, we must assume that Ms. Lewis’ annual compensation is upwards of that amount.
Additionally, for 2012, Lewis also collected $64,157 from the IL Federation of Teachers, as well as $68,000-plus for her alleged teaching position. All told, for 2012, Ms. "Race-Baiter" Lewis pocketed $202,487-plus, putting her in the top 2% of all US earners.
Regular readers understand full well that I abhor name-calling, so I would like to explain that the above has nothing to do with name calling, rather, it has to do with brutal honesty.
Ms. Lewis is ignorant for not recognizing the damage that the system which she champions does to the children; for not recognizing that the system she defends puts “the adults” before the children.
Ms. Lewis is arrogant for her need to find a scapegoat, for her need to blame anyone but the bureaucrats themselves for a system that has been constructed to be vulnerable to bureaucratic largess, and perverted – with her assistance – from a quest to educate children into a teacher-destroying ideo-political organism hell-bent on preserving employee benefits – even as municipalities go broke under the strain of their demands – above the needs of their charges.
And Ms. Lewis is pathetic and a disgrace to humanity, for the abuse of her position in advancing the epidemic that is race-baiting in the United States today. Chicago schools have had financial and performance issues long before Ms. Lewis came to be the mouthpiece for her labor union. Chicago public schools had issues with finances and performance under white mayors, a female mayor and two black mayors. Chicago schools have even had finance and performance issues with City Councils that have been all White, predominantly Black and otherwise diverse in culture. In fact, the only commonality found in the command-and-control bureaucratic apparatus of the Chicago Public School System – or in the Chicago political system which oversees the Chicago Public School system, for that matter – is that those elected to public office, as well as the school boards, have all been Progressives and Liberal Democrats. That is a fact that cannot be denied. And for this grotesque dishonesty, Ms. Lewis is a pathetic, race-baiting disgrace, unworthy of the charge that is the education of our children.
Dante has a special circle for race-baiters. He also has a special circle for those who abuse and use children for gain and satisfaction. But I really, don’t know if Dante even wants to contemplate a circle for Ms. Lewis. And that says quite a bit.