Saturday, March 14, 2009

Lily Eskelsen: Standing Between Poor Kids and A Quality Education Since 2008

It’s nearly impossible for your average citizen to differentiate between “teachers” and “teacher’s unions”.

When Republicans attack teachers' unions the response we get usually comes from some middle aged house frau, who voted for Obama because he was a “dreamboat”, and who counters our policy ideas by saying something like:

“Don’t attack the teachers! They teach our children! Children are the future! Teachers, Children, Future! Why do you hate children?!!”

This is why teacher's unions tend to get a free pass from the American public, despite the fact that they are among the most greedy and self-serving institutions in the country.

Not only do they routinely advocate rewarding incompetence, supporting tenure without regard to ability and opposing merit pay, but folks like National Education Association Vice-President Lily Eskelsen have been the nation’s staunchest defenders of the status–quo in our public education system.

Now if you think that our public school system is perfect and is not in need of reform then you can stop reading here.

Truthfully, the vast majority of our nation’s public schools are just fine. The problem lies in the fact that the public schools in America’s poorest communities are a complete mess.

President Bush attempted to address this problem through No Child Left Behind and it worked to a certain extent. If nothing else, NCLB put a magnifying glass over our country’s worst schools and forced them to adopt a structured test-based curriculum which has resulted in vast improvements across the board in the reading comprehension and math skills of kids who would otherwise be looking forward to a future of handling the mayonnaise applicator at their local Hardee's.

It would be understandable if Ms. Eskelsen opposed NCLB because it’s uniformly applied to a state’s schools without regard to demographics or the cultural and economic differences of the given area. Or due to the fact that the tests vary from state to state making accurate, nationwide, comparative analysis impossible. But, that’s not her beef. The problem Eskelsen has with NCLB is that it hampers the teacher’s ability to use “creative” teaching methods. I assume that these are the same “creative” methods that made sweeping education reform a necessity in the first place, but I digress.

To Eskelsen the happiness of the teachers trumps the progress of the students. To her and her ilk the fact that Billy can’t read isn’t nearly as important as the method by which teachers attempt to teach him how to read, regardless of how well those methods work.

Eskelsen is an equally enthusiastic cheerleader for the status quo when it comes to school choice. She’s against it.

With school choice, a student who is attending a gang-infested school inhabited by teachers who are themselves hooked on phonics, would be given a voucher which they could put towards the tuition at a private school. This gives more power to parents who care deeply about their child’s education but who can’t afford to send them to a school where the principal doesn’t moonlight as a stripper.

On its surface, it would appear that only an individual with the conscience of say…Bernie Madoff could oppose such an idea. But in a fashion similar to a Wall Street short seller, Eskelsen has put greed ahead of poor students.

You see, public schools get their funding based on how many students they have, but obviously they don’t spend every penny of the allotted money that they get per student on the student himself. They buy other things with it, like dodge balls and computers and a cappucino machine for the teacher’s lounge. So if Billy takes his voucher and goes to a public school, they can kiss their cappucino machine goodbye. I’m exaggerating of course, but the point I’m trying to make is that the only reason for Eskelsen’s opposition to vouchers is that it forces the public schools to actually earn their government money rather than automatically receiving it, even if Billy is sixteen years old and spells his name with a “K”. No questions asked.

Eskelsen’s solution? Go back to the way things used to be. The good old days when the less academic prowess a school’s students exhibited, the more cash was thrown at the school in hopes that Billy would magically learn his state capitals despite the fact that he was dodging bullets in the lunchroom.

Eskelsen and her teachers' union cronies have enjoyed the naive good-will of the American public for far too long. It is time that folks woke up and realized that unions such as the NEA and people like Eskelsen are the primary obstacle to meaningful school reform in this country. However, as long as politicians like Barack Obama an Ted Kennedy are having their campaign coffers filled by folks like Eskelsen the status quo will remain.

I’ll leave you with one last example of the double standard that is keeping our nation’s poorest children from receiving a chance at a real education.

Here in D.C. we have what is widely considered to be one of the nation’s worst public school systems. Recently two siblings, Sarah and James Parker used an experimental voucher program and escaped a school that was rotting from the inside. With the voucher they began attending The Sidwell Friends School, one of D.C.’s best.

But because of pressure put on Barack Obama by folks like Lily Eskelsen and others at the NEA, these kids are going to be forced back into their decrepit D.C. public school regardless of the sub-par education they will be receiving in D.C.’s violent and decaying system.

President Obama’s daughters are now matriculating at Sidwell Friends. I wonder if he considered placing the First Daughters in a D.C. public school before making the move from Chicago? I’m guessing not. After all he wouldn’t want Sasha and Malia associating with public school riff raff like Sarah, James and Billy.

So Sarah. James. If you are reading this, just remember: when you’re flipping burgers and scrubbing toilets twenty years from now, you have Lily Eskelsen to thank.
-Dan Joseph

"I Could have been president if Lily Eskelsen hadn't taken away my voucher. Oh well, guess I'll go rape some tourists."

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Anonymous said...

Be careful what you say about middle aged women.

Steve said...

Another excellent reason to toss the Nineteenth Amendment.

Anonymous said...

It’s funny… You really should do some homework before you speak… Lily Eskelsen was a teacher at The School With No Name here in Utah – the public school in the homeless shelter… She worked there for years. So it’s funny that you say she’s been standing in the way of poor kids. You are an idiot, and probably won’t listen anyway, so for anyone else reading – I’ll stand in as her shill…

Her work with homeless kids, as she stated in many of her speeches, was EXACTLY the reason she found that vouchers wouldn’t work. Take your average Title 1 school. Give them all vouchers – let’s see which private schools want to take the children with lice, with meth labs, with gang affiliate parents… You keep talking about getting children AWAY from these “dirty little creatures,” but don’t they deserve a chance too? You keep talking about getting kids away from schools that are overrun with gangs. What about fixing the problem AT THE SCHOOL? I mean – you will always have a separation between nice schools in rich areas, and poorer schools – but just moving poor kids to rich schools, that’s the solution? If you can move your kids to another school away from the “problem” kids – what’s to stop the problem kids from also being moved to the school you just moved YOUR kids to! That’s a wonderfully republican idea – maybe if we just move the problem will go away… Don’t bother trying to fix the problem at the ROOT! If the schools is bad, FIX THE SCHOOL!!!

Anyway, you obviously have no idea what you are talking about, and if you were the product of your elite private schools, it really goes a long way to show where the failing really is – if you are the product of your local public school, then maybe I’m wrong about this whole thing! But you still think you’re a genius, so…