Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Republicans Reforming Education

For years, the Democrats have held the edge with the public on the issue of education. This has been for a variety of reasons. But now that’s fading because GOP governors are actually changing the world of education with stunning success. And strangely, the credit belongs to Jeb Bush.

Between 1999 and 2007, Jeb Bush was governor of Florida. When he was elected, Florida’s schools were the worst in the nation. Against the total opposition of the Florida teachers unions, Bush instituted the following reforms:

● First, Florida began grading schools -- A through F -- based on student progress on proficiency tests. Students at schools which failed were allowed to transfer away.

● Secondly, they stopped “social promotion,” i.e. graduating kids to the next grade even though they were failing. (i.e. incentives for students)

● Third, they created a merit-pay system where teachers got bonuses if their students passed certain exams. (i.e. incentives for teachers)

● Fourth, parents got greater choice. They could use state vouchers to choose from public, private, charter and even on-line schools. (i.e. incentives for schools)

● Fifth, they changed the certification requirements to allow other professionals to become teachers even without having the noxious and useless “education” degree.

Each of these are things the teachers unions all over the country have been fighting for decades with the most ridiculous claims. Like how in Michigan, for example, the Michigan Education Association is whining how new reforms they are fighting would mean a 44-year-old teach who was hoping to retire in three years now would not be able to retire until she turns all of 60! The horror. They've also screamed racism, classism, and all the usual crappola.

So how did Bush’s plan work? Florida’s schools are now statistically among the best in the nation. That’s right, worst to near first in eight years. And black and Hispanic students have made the biggest gains. Moreover, Bush did all of this without massive increases in spending -- per pupil spending rose slightly, but not as much as in other states.

You would think this would open some eyes on the left, right? Hardly. Republican governors are now doing the exact same things in Nevada, New Mexico, Michigan, Indiana, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arizona, and a host of other Republican leaning states with Republican governors. And guess what? The unions and the Democrats continue to fight tooth and nail to stop these proven reforms. Isn’t it amazing that they simply don’t want things to get better?

Well, according to researchers at Stanford University, voters increasingly see the Democrats as servants of the teachers unions and the failing status quo. So maybe things are changing?

Of course, that won’t change any Democratic minds. I’ve mentioned before how it’s being proven that liberals are stupider than conservatives, are less well-informed, and are more likely to avoid people who disagree with them (LINK, LINK). Well, it also turns out that liberals distort their beliefs to help their own side. Indeed, consider this fact from the liberal Washington Post: while 73% of liberals said the White House could control gas prices when Bush was in office, only 33% claimed to believe that with Obama in the White House. That means two out of three liberals either changed their beliefs or lied about their beliefs to help the Democrats. Imagine that! So don’t expect them to recognize the improvements in the world of education.

But others are waking up. And little by little, the Democrats are losing their association with being the party of education. And that will benefit the nation's children.

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