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  • Begin with the end in mind

    Posted by Bruno Behrend on August 17th, 2010 (All posts by )

    I’m a bit of Covey Fan, at least some great stuff from his first book. Beginning with the end in mind, and keeping it in mind, is central to strategic thinking on policy and politics.

    With that out of the way, I’ll tell you that one of the “ends” I’m working toward is the transformation (as opposed to the reform) of America’s education system.

    I can easily defend the statement that America’s education system can’t be reformed in its present context. Taking that one step further, i would argue that even if it could be reformed, we shouldn’t want to.

    I write all this because I just posted a comment to one of my favorite blogs, Brothers Judd. The post on that blog touted an article describing Obama’s “break” with the Teacher’s Unions. This is an interesting development, and there is much more, and much less, than meets the eye.

    The comment I posted is below.

    This is my take, and I think I’ll be proven right. Obama & Co. know that the existing system is unsustainable, particularly for the urban schools. They are creatures of the Union, but know that Unionism is the problem. Hence their attempt to “fix” the system using half-measures like “turnaround models” and charters.

    This is akin to “glasnost” and “perestroika.” Obama thinks he can loosen the leash, maintain control, and then re-unionize charters when results improve. This brings to mind 2 important things for true reformers to remember.

    1. Reforms need to lead to the permanent removal of unionization from education, so we need to work toward the collapse of the union system (USSR), and not its “reform.”

    2. All this talk of Obama truly understanding the problem should be ignored. Whatever his personal motivation to succeed, in his heart of hearts, he is an unreconstructed leftist who believes everything William Ayers believes about schooling.

    He’s Gramsci to the core. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonio_Gramsci

    Just remember, like Katrina, if every government school in the US fell to rubble tomorrow, we would see a flourishing of education that would surprise the most Pollyanna optimist. To that end, all half measures should be designed to destroy the current system, not to save it.

    US Government Education Complex = USSR
    Obama = Gorbachev

    In my view, , the Union-dominated education system will appear strong, like the USSR, right up to the moment they collapse. Once they collapse, Unions must be driven from education.

    The most important policy needed to bring that about is the rapid charterizaton of existing schools, combined with the majority of the education dollar following children to those schools.

    If you don’t put a stake through their heart, salt and garlic the coffin, and scatter the ashes, they will come back and fix on your neck yet again.

     

    9 Responses to “Begin with the end in mind”

    1. Maddog Says:

      Unions are parasites. They slowly kill the host. It was long presumed they would be unable to kill public hosts but that is not the case. Instead they will kill the host and cause a phoenix like rebirth of the host in completely new form. The public is now ready for this change.

      When I worked as a member of the AFL-CIO and AWPPW unions I came to believe that private unions were a long term impossibility. The same is true of public unions.

      I agree that the collapse will be surprising and quick. But in the age of Obama nearly everything predictable is seen as surprising. I also agree with the charterization idea. However, once dead the unions will not become undead and rise like vampires. The sunshine of the change will cauterize unions to the quick.

      I too like the Brothers Judd and unsurprisingly the Chicago Boyz.

      Mark

    2. Robert Schwartz Says:

      Is Orin still rewriting everybody’s comments?

    3. Bruno Behrend Says:

      Yes, and from his sunny worldview, rewriting all negative developments into positives.

    4. J. Scott Says:

      Excellent post and spot-on! Unions should be driven from all public sector organizations and shown for the shake-down artists they truly are.

    5. Robert Schwartz Says:

      I used to be a regular Brothers Judd reader and commenter. Orin rewrote one to many of my comments, and I said to myself, why am I wasting my time. I seldom visit anymore.

    6. P. Aaron Says:

      The progressive’s strategy is: if the status quo fails: wreck it so bad in cannot be fixed…period.

    7. Duke Says:

      I think the perestroika analogy is spot on.
      But I disagree that Obama has concluded that the status quo of public education is unsustainable. IMHO, it’s all talk for PR show that has become necessary now that large numbers of citizens are aware that public salaries and benefits have grown out of control. I see his recent $26 billion bailout to prevent states cutting teacher positions as simply kicking the budget can down the road until after 2012.

    8. Ike Says:

      We ought to work for the total exclusion of federal, state and local governments from education. From education at primary, secondary, college, graduate and post-graduate levels. No “helpful advice”, no “no-strings funding”, no “minimum requirements” .. nothing, zero, zip, nada. Costs for children’s education would plummett to affordable levels. College and universities would find themselves needing to make drastic changes in curricula, faculty, organization, costs … and they would do so. Parents could get their children the education the parents want and be able to afford it.

    9. theBuckWheat Says:

      We home schooled our daughter. Our problem as parents was that when she entered higher education, she was two years younger than her classmates. While we accept that our daughter was bright, we think this is far more indicative of how unproductive government-run schools are. This is somewhat validated when we review the high school finals that people born in 1920 had to pass and compare it to what is considered passing in today’s high schools.

      Government schooling is so very expensive that in some districts it costs almost $1 million to graduate a single student who is proficient in science and math.