Refrigerators and Vats Could Save Taxpayers Billions
Imagine your refrigerator without a separate freezer compartment. Just think of all the expensive food that would be wasted and how foolishly inefficient and cost ineffective such one-storage-area refrigerators would be. Well, that’s exactly how our American public schools operate. Instead of having two curriculums (academic and vocational), high schools utilize the “one-size-fits-all” approach by forcing teachers to teach academics to all students. The Commissioner of Education (and local school bureaucrats) then give upper grade teachers “The Rumpelstiltskin Mandate: “Okay, now here’s 120 students. We want you to spin straw into gold and next the State of New Jersey is going to give your students an academic High School Proficiency Test to ascertain that you’ve performed that simple task and then hold you the teacher accountable for academic excellence.”
The “one-size-fits-all” high school practice is why local taxpayers don’t get the educational “bang for the buck” that they deserve. As soon as government bureaucrats touch hard-earned tax dollars, good money suddenly becomes wasteful money. For example, thirty to forty percent of the students at Hammonton High School are not academic students and they should be attending a County Vocational School. Yet the State compels high school instructors to teach academics to all students and then academically tests those 30-40% reluctant learners on their knowledge.
To be fair to everyone involved, if the State insists on an academic test then all public high schools should be converted into high standards’ academies with the thirty-to-forty percent of vocational-oriented students removed and sent to technical prep high schools better tailored to their future careers. If the present “one-size-fits-all” democratic comprehensive high school scenario must exist (without student redistribution into separate academic and vocational high schools), then the most ethical State solution should be to have two student performance tests administered: an Academic Test for college-bound scholars and a Basic Skills Test for the remaining 30-to-40% of the student body.
The United States is the greatest nation in the world in spite of its lackluster public school education system. Up until most recently property owners could afford financing an inefficient system of education. We all must recognize that those thirty-to-forty percent vocational-oriented students must (after high school graduation) be re-educated and re-trained by technical schools and by profit-oriented corporations because their “comprehensive democratic high schools” didn’t adequately prepare them for their future careers. Our “democratic comprehensive high schools” are so pretentiously concerned about the vocational-oriented students while force-feeding them four years of academic education but when those many unprepared seniors graduate we dispassionately say to them, “Good luck! Now you’re on your own!”
Local taxpayers shouldn’t fault their Hammonton Board of Education for representing a highly wasteful “democratic comprehensive high school” philosophy. The high per-pupil-cost of public school education cannot be fixed or repaired on the local level, even if the Board wanted it corrected. The Board is only following policy dictated by the State of New Jersey, which is mimicking the Federal Department of Education’s quixotic instructions. The difficulties of the “teach academics to everyone and tolerate everything” democratic comprehensive high school can only be addressed and solved on the national level, and then the all-too-familiar “trickle-down Chameleon Effect” could change things for the better on the local educational front.
Most of those who object to the content of this letter are probably apologists for the present status-quo form of education that’s currently in place and who also have vested interests in maintaining the in-progress mediocre public school system now functioning. Most school board candidates advocate “quality education at the lowest tax cost” without realizing that our public high schools squander millions of dollars annually by perpetuating weaknesses in the areas of tolerating chronic discipline problems and improper student distribution into the most desirable curriculum divisions: local high school academic program and county high school vocational program.
The public must understand that the terms academics and education are not synonymous or interchangeable. In 2007 academic instruction is what happens in private academies and education is what happens in public schools. Yet in today’s reality public schools are sociological institutions merely reflecting the appearance of being academic places. If the State of New Jersey wishes to give public school students an academic test to qualify for graduation then it should take the sociological aspects out of the curriculum and convert its democratic comprehensive high schools into high standards academies and build county vocational schools to accommodate the remaining 30-40% vocational-type students.
In addition to studying how refrigerators operate, federal, state and local public school officials ought to understand how vats can be another partial but creative solution to our national educational dilemma. In Europe (VATS) Value-Added-Taxes help alleviate property assessments. Whenever an item is purchased in Italy or Spain, a VAT is added onto the total cost of the commodity to provide additional government operating revenue. Besides revamping our cost-inefficient public school systems by eliminating the central problem that academics must be taught to all students, it’s time for Americans to understand how both refrigerators and vats can make public school education more practical and affordable and thus annually save American property taxpayers billions of dollars.
Jay Dubya (author of 41 books)