On Ditching The Department of Education

Well, thanks to Mike Pence and every republican senator who received a generous donation from Betsy DeVos, that same Betsy DeVos is now the Secretary of Education.

This is stupid. She has no business being in charge of our nation’s education. But I don’t disagree with all of her ideas. I’ve come to realize my anger isn’t really with Betsy DeVos or even Mike Pence or Trump, but when it comes to education in America, the whole philosophy is off the mark for the 21st century and that is where my disdain lies.

The need for a Department of Education as we know it has sailed, in my opinion. Here’s my simple plan for unfucking our education system and getting America smart again. Yes I know that’s a very Trump thing to say but clearly we are spiraling towards a level of unheard of dumbfuckery. It’s not to late.  Let’s get started.

  1. Eliminate the Department of Education as we know it today.
  2. Immediately form a council comprised of one republican senator and one democratic senator passionate about education, and four nominated and elected teachers. There needs to be a teacher with three years of tenure, one with seven years, one with fifteen years and one with twenty years. This puts a good sampling on the council. You can only serve once. What is their role? To oversee the distribution of tax dollars to the states, and manage an audit, and that’s about it. (Not a lot more than what they do today.)
    • All tax monies collected by the federal government are deposited into an escrow. 75% of the collected annual revenue is distributed back to the states based on population. 25% of the annual revenue is then split by need to the bottom 25% of states based on population. This isn’t ideal, but we could certainly have someone smarter than me at math create a better split.  To me, population is the key.  A state like New York or California should get more money than Iowa but Iowa should still get a shot at some extra scratch to make it happen.
    • The council’s only real job is to ensure two things. That money is handled appropriately and states are following the audit parameters. Oh, and that church and state do not mix.
  3. The government will contract a third party company to audit the states’ use of funds. Any state that fails to submit the audit or fails the audit according to process or content is ineligible for funds the following year until the prior year audit is met.
    • Private companies will bid on this process via RFP and will be awarded a four year contract.
    • RFP Answers will be posted in full on a simple website. Selection of the winning company will be voted on during the presidential election.
    • There’s a lot of stuff that needs to be worked out on this, but people do RFPs all the time. We can iron out the kinks to make this happen.
  4. Part of the audit will be funds management, but a second part of it will be a standardized test. Criteria for these tests is below, and it will only make up about 25% of the criteria.
  5. All decisions on how federal money is spent becomes the obligation of the states, within the wide parameters of the audit criteria. Basically, you can’t spend it on a bunch of religion, etc. It needs to be with the intent of providing a quality general education to all children.
  6. Any piece of standardization becomes the obligation of the states, but states can work together to create this standardization. The main focus needs to be on true understanding and not rote, as you’ll read on below.

That’s pretty much it. There needs to be some oversight on the funds and an eye on the general process.  A budget for audits and third party fees needs to be determined ahead of time, and that’s what the government pays. Fair pay for job well done. This stuff happens all the time in the business world and it’s time to eliminate the bureaucracy and efficiently make changes to our education system.

So why give the money and the power to the states?  That’s easy. What works for Baton Rouge won’t work for Defiance, Iowa. Contrary to popular theory, I have pretty strong feelings that most teachers care about their jobs and want to educate kids to the best of their ability. Who knows better what the kids in the classrooms need than the people in the classrooms. It’s well documented and inarguable at this point that people learn at different rates and with different styles. Teachers need the flexibility and the funding to adjust to the nuances of their classroom year to year. That doesn’t mean states shouldn’t implement a standardized test now and again. But that should only be a portion of the measure. This next section will get a ton of fucking heat from people but I’m right and they are wrong, so let’s take a look.

  1. We have to completely rethink how we teach. It can no longer be about standardized tests where most questions can be answered by rote. How do we do this? That’s not rhetorical.  We need to figure this out and it’s going to be fucking painful at first.
  2. All general education grades 5 – 12 need to completely shift from focusing on the ‘what’ and instead focus on the ‘how and why’. What does this mean?
    •  Getting the right answer is still important, but understanding why it is the right answer is more important. Don’t just tell kids that two plus two is 4. Explain to them why it is four. Explain to them how it is four. I know this is a pretty fucking easy concept to understand when I tell it this simply, but it’s the old adage if you give a gal a fish she eats for a day but if you show her how Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery is a metaphor for not following the crowd and show her how to apply it to current governments, local issues in the town, etc., that mother fuckette will be fat on knowledge and she’ll be able to feed others with her mental acumen and deductive prowess. Right?  That’s how that metaphor goes? I’m pretty sure that’s how it goes.
  3. Maybe Common Core is not the ideal way to go about it, but absofuckinglutely kids need to learn there is more than one way to skin a cat. So taking the time early on in their lives to show them multiple ways of approaching a problem, and making sure they have a really good understanding of common and advanced concepts is WAY more important than being able to recite a bunch of shit for a test and then never retaining it. This will make kids so much more marketable as adults.
    • For real. I know who the idiots are because they are the people who bitch about kids not learning the old way of math and science. You know what, actually keep teaching your kids the same old shit and I’ll make sure the people I care about learn both the old way and some new ways to solve problems, and then they can run circles around your kids. Have fun digging a ditch, you dumb bastard.
    • I’d like to point out that there is absolutely nothing wrong with digging ditches or doing manual labor. If I could make enough money moving big round hay bales for a living you’d never see or hear from me again. But as a historic metaphor, fuck your basic kids.  Here’s a shovel.
  4. Last but not least, every school in America must teach a basic life skills class each grade year where they learn one to two really, really important skills like how to manage money, how to balance a check book, how to buy a house, how to take out a loan, how to manage a credit card, how to care for a pet, how to set up a will, how to hold a garage sale. Things they will actually do later in life. How to use Excel. Email etiquette. These are important skills and this will be a requirement of the audit under my plan.

That’s it. At the local level, teachers will enjoy the autonomy to teach kids the way they need to learn, focusing more on true understanding concepts and how to learn than whether or not a third grader can memorize how to spell discombobulated. (FYI, I FUCKING NAILED THAT WITHOUT SPELLCHECKER!)

Are there going to be problems.  Of course!  There’s problems now. Will there be shitty teachers? Some!  We have that now. Will there be misappropriations of fund? Truly! That’s why we’ll have to be diligent as we create the audit process. Will there by lessons learned? I hope so. That’s the point! But some other countries are doing some things right, and we should learn from them as we move forward to become brilliant again. And we need to stop selling ourselves short.  There are already a ton of really smart people doing amazing things every day. But the dinosaur that is the Department of Ed is dead, and we don’t need a Jurassic Park on our hands. Keep the bones in the museum and let’s figure out a better way to do this.

UNION NOTE: I don’t care if the states bust ’em. But, under this new rule we would implement a league minimum of $35,000. Need more money to pay this exorbitant salary? Figure it out, states.

Let the hate parade begin.

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