SQ744 – Far from a winning team

Written by Ron on September 28th, 2010

We just got a slick mail piece trying to connect sports team rankings with educational ranking in Oklahoma. As most of us already know, there is no connection at all with our various sports teams and education, despite the student-athlete myth. This one plays on the other great myth of the political-educational complex, namely that there is a direct correlation between spending on common education and the quality of the education. All one has to do is look at the tragedy of the Washington D.C. school system to see that this is plainly not true.

The D.C. system ranks among the highest in teacher pay and per-pupil spending in the nation and is at the absolute bottom in quality.  When we see how much wailing and money the AFT spent to get rid of Mayor Fenty and soon his Education Chancellor Michelle Rhee, it is abundantly clear that the only thing the teachers’ union cares about is protecting their jobs  and to hell with the kids, the parents and everyone else.

The one thing connected to sports that actually does have a direct bearing on education is that you put your best people in the game if you want to win, and put the rest of the folks either on the bench or off the team.  It does not matter how much experience they have, what certifications they have or anything else. Whether it is coaches or players, those that put out 110% and don’t make excuses get the victories and those that whine about funding and process and seniority lose. This is the lesson from sports that we should apply to public education.

Piles of money will not get you a winning team if the main criteria for coaches and players is certifications and seniority, regardless of performance. A union will never produce a winning team because “winning” is not what they are about. Unions are about job protection and grievance process. There was a time when they were also a guarantor of a certain level of skill and expertise going back to the guilds, but that has long been eroded by the almighty gods of process and seniority.

The one true thing from the mailer is where it says, “SQ744 takes control of school funding away from lobbyists and government bureaucrats, and puts it in the hands of local parents, teachers and school boards.” The problem is that none of those local parents teachers and school boards are in Oklahoma.  We may as well hand over our school funding decisions directly to the NEA/AFT. The results would be the same.

A new film by David Guggenheim, not exactly a conservative ideologue, called Waiting for Superman, will hopefully help to further drive a wedge between those who want to worship process and protect jobs and those who actually care about educating the youth of our country, regardless of party or persuasion. There is also a good review of the film by Matthew Shaffer at National Review Online, (Rocking the Boat on Education) who saw it at a screening sponsored by Democrats for School Choice.

Education is the single biggest factor that can liberate young people  from a dysfunctional, troubled or just loveless home into a functional, productive and fulfilling life. I think that is more important than guaranteeing the job security,  grievance process and pensions of so-called “teachers” that will never make the starting lineup.


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