Education is a priority
by Missouri Rep. Ed Emery (R-126 including the counties of
Barton, Dade, Jasper and Polk)
We love to leave our mark by structure, endowment, or award. What about our own children and the others we train up; are they not more penetrating and eternal?
A good friend and dedicated educator recently emailed me with concerns about education funding and priorities. Her frustration reflects that of many a conversation I have with voters. Education is increasingly a political special interest expected to win & lose elections. Such a profile is not conducive to good education policy but rather to favoritism and empty promises.
My email reply became a concise (you may disagree) summary of my assessment and vision for education in Missouri which I decided to reproduce in part for you. Some town hall meetings on education would likely be profitable where teachers and parents could join in. No one has the perfect answer to education, but there are principles of learning and education that can be used to formulate new ideas and test ideas both new and old.
Briefly put, government schools fail for six reasons: lack of competition and choice, ineffective school boards, powerful teacher unions, conflicts of interest, political interference, and centralization of funding and control. --Bast and Walberg
There is a small paperback book that I have recommended before by Joseph L. Bast and Herbert J. Walberg, Ph.D., Let's Put Parents Back In Charge--How Vouchers Can Make America's Schools Great, which analyses and answers education questions better than I can. You can download a free copy from this link.
It is true that a Republic cannot survive without a learned population, and Americans seem less and less learned. My vision for Missouri is that education must be one of the top if not the top priority. I am not talking about budget(education got 35% this year); I am talking about effectiveness, truth, and character that produce exceptional success in life. Exceptionalism is not collectivism; the two are dichotomous. In a collectivist structure, exceptionalism is discouraged, penalized, and, therefore, rare.
America is becoming the product of our own devices. We removed from government schools what made public schools more effective every year until 1948 when that pattern began to reverse and trend downward. Since 1948, no amount of funding has reversed the downward trend, and none will without meaningful reform. That is my opinion, but there is neither statistic nor trend that contradicts it. In education, Americans have learned to live with mediocrity of results and are satisfied to just slow the downward trend with trinkets of "reform."
I am grateful for passionate educators. It was our passion for education and its impact on the future that would not allow my wife and I to delegate the education of our children to others. Most will not chose to home-educate their children, so it is imperative that public education be restored to the level of effectiveness and trend it enjoyed prior to 1948. With the unimaginable technological advances since then, were the cultural themes prior to that date to be restored, there are no limits to American exceptionalism in education. Our children are worth the fight to restore truth to education. I cannot settle for less regardless of the political or personal opposition or consequences.
It is time to decide whether politics or principle is our goal--form or function. There are a few like-minded colleagues in the Missouri legislature who are as passionate to educate youth as I am. Nevertheless, though I should have to stand alone even against friends, I cannot waiver on the issue of education. The public school institution is not the proxy of success, and I will not ignore the results nor accept the consequences of poor results.
My statewide goal is learned children, not a healthy bureaucracy or comfortable institution. I don't know about others, but for me and my family, we will work for exceptionalism. That is my goal, and I am committed to the battle. For the sake of America's future I cannot shrink from it. I believe most Missourians are in the same fight and on the same side.