Wednesday, May 03, 2006


Many of the elements of LB 1024, the new education bill in Nebraska that would split the Omaha Public Schools into three parts, and consolidate all metro-area districts into one revenue-sharing “learning community,” are strangely antithetical to free-market capitalism.

These changes are “statist” rather than “capitalist,” in the way they establish the state government as the boss of what goes on in local public schools, rather than the locals themselves. Basically, statists think they know better than you do, and that goes double for running the schools that shape your children.

This statist push in Nebraska is coming from an odd coalition of freeze-dried hippies with 1960s ideas about collectivism and relativism (Sen. Ron Raikes of Lincoln and Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha), and control-freak business and government officials who want our schools to crank out standardized children who’ve all had the same “inputs” so that they’ll be up-to-spec, well-fitted cogs for the wheels of the global workforce machine (Chamber of Commerce types and state and federal educrats).

“Statism” holds that a planned economy with centralized government services is the way to go. That’s what we’re seeing in Nebraska education right now. We got into it, bigtime, several years ago when we “caved” to state learning standards and corresponding assessments for our schools, and actually many years before that, when we moved away from local property taxes as the sole funding source for local public schools, and began to accept state and federal tax revenues as well.

To the extent that Nebraska’s public policies utterly reject the notion that parents should be free to choose, shape and supervise the schools they want for their own children – and our state is one of the worst in the nation in terms of educational freedom – then we already have a statist system.

LB 1024 would just make that worse, through the further centralization of decision-making power and control over revenue that is shifting to the “learning community” and away from local parents and teachers. It’s only a matter of time before we consolidate salary schedules, fringe benefits packages, and pension plans into one statewide “compensation system,” because it’ll be “equitable,” and of course, it’ll be calibrated to the most expensive level. It looks like all public education employees will be paid the same as state employees, because in effect, they’ll BE state employees.

It really doesn’t matter how smart and effective the school-board members are that you and I elect. They really are irrelevant – even the State Board of Ed, which has been maneuvered into obsolescence and, I predict, will be done away with in a few years.

The segmentation of OPS into three smaller districts is of no consequence, for all parents and teachers of all demographic groups and locations will still be forced to operate within the same “box” constructed of state learning standards, assessments, accreditation requirements, union rules, and teachers’ college paradigms.

Sen. Ernie Chambers’ flamboyance notwithstanding, the OPS trifecta is merely a bait and switch to make the liberals feel good about slipping into a fascist-type system that they otherwise would oppose. But what we will have is central planning of what’s now openly being called “pre-K to Grade 16 education.”

And with the state’s new data-collection system, it’s probable that actual state control over education, training and jobs is going to go ‘way beyond “Grade 16” . . . all the way to “Grade 50 and 60,” and that’s not all that facetious. They didn’t put a chronological age on the “learning” that will be governed by this “learning community,” now, did they?

Have you noticed how alternatives, ideas and proposals for school choice and privatization as the obvious solutions to this controversy are being thoroughly censored? The evidence is on the table, that state control of schools has ruined inner-city education for the neediest kids for whom education is the only real hope to get out of the ghetto. But nobody’s willing to face that fact, and get around it to a better way.

It’s not all that amazing. It’s because the “party line” is being pushed frantically, as this “opportunity” to embed the state as the superintendent of schools plays out. The stakes are high. The more you concentrate educational power and financial say-so, and the more you quash competition, the easier it is for you to indoctrinate a single point of view into what the little kiddies will be taught and how they will be shaped.

Ah, they say: public schools are crucial to democracy because they allow a wide range of philosophies and value systems to mix and mingle. That would be compelling, if it were true. What do we have in public schools today? Indoctrination – “my way or the highway” – left-wing political propaganda, special-interest group pressure, jailing dads if they don’t want their kids taught that homosexual marriage is great, and handcuffing little kindergartners if they draw a picture of Jesus.

The surest way to get real intellectual freedom for kids is to privatize schools to allow true diversity, individuality and open-mindedness to flourish . . . and we should have done it yesterday.

Failure to strengthen the private sector in education has created a funhouse mirror, financially, as well. We’ve all seen the school budgets rocket up into the stratosphere, while actual academic achievement has tanked or is so-so at best. Right now, we have the goofy situation of public-school teachers making higher salaries and enjoying much more expensive fringe benefits than private-school teachers. Can you think of another line of work in which the government employees make more than the private-sector ones?

That’s the end game of all of this – to keep it up – keep pumping out the money and power for the statists even though they’re turning out an inferior product at a much-higher cost, and search out, shrink and destroy the private-sector competition that might expose that.

C.S. Lewis called it “the dead hand of the great planners and conditioners” in his important and prophetic book on the future of education written ‘way back in 1944, The Abolition of Man.

Now, government is not all bad. Of course we need a little bit of government. But there’s a slippery slope and a snowballing effect when statism starts to roll. Things get bug-ugly. And that’s where I see this going. You can read more about the end results of statism on:


C.S. Lewis had it pegged:

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

In fact, Lewis predicted the indoctrination and Political Correctness that many people believe are ruining public education today in his 1944 book, Abolition of Man.

Pour yourself a strong cup of caffeinated java – you’ll need it; this guy was a brainiac and he could WRITE! – and see how prophetic Lewis was:


What are we to do about all this? Tune in tomorrow. There’s a way out!

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